The Usability Laboratory is a part of
the Department of
Computer Science at The
University of Waikato.
What is The Usability Laboratory?
Call it a laboratory, a think-tank or a
facility. The Usability Laboratory promotes and facilitates
innovation and quality through academic-industry relationships
within many areas of HCI: user-centred design, usability and
interaction design. We do this by offering three valuable
services within the NZ ICT industry:
User Experience Consulting
We utilise a wide range of usability
engineering experiences and knowledge through interaction with users.
We are user-centred and advocate with
the users' best interests in mind.
Our recommendations make valuable
business sense, and can drastically improve the experience of users.
Our feedback is timely, useful and
beneficial, and where possible, is provided at relevant stages of
development and progress.
We give our clients our best attention
and manage projects around their deadlines.
We provide an open and engaging
relationship with our clients. We are candid and honest.
We offer an extensive range of user
experience / usability engineering consulting
services including strategic usability development, user role and
task analysis, interaction and information design, usability
evaluation and testing.
We have NZ's best equipped
usability engineering facilities
including single and group user testing rooms, advanced recording
equipment, and a viewing room.
We have established an environment where
designers and developers can instantly recognise ways to improve their
products and can learn from the experience of our team.
Government -Focused Research
We believe it is important for NZ
industry & government to have ready access to cost-effective,
relevant and useful user-experience research that can add instant
benefit to their current offerings. That is why we are
extending our services in 2005 to look at a range of research
projects that are NZ ICT industry & government -focused. The
results of the research will be made available to all NZ ICT
industry players. Watch this space to see our 2005 projects.
The Usability Laboratory involves itself
in a number of research projects as well. We try to seek
projects that will help extend our knowledge of user-experiences,
usability evaluation and testing, interaction design, and user role
and task analysis. Our goal is to help improve the knowledge
that already exists in the usability domain.
Projects we have been involved in have
Collaborative software development
Collaborative information gathering
Collaborative large display surfaces.
Online teaching tools for Maori.
Teaching tools for illiterate users.
Digital library developments.
Small screen displays.
We also help develop and support:
Academic - Industry
We strongly believe that there is a
significant advantage when ICT developers and providers partner with
academic organisations during product development. After all,
academic research is all about discovering far reaching innovations
while industry is about bringing those innovations to people in a way
that makes sense and succeeds commercially.
Practitioner - Academic Relationships
We are strong advocates of usability
practitioner - academic relationships. This is why we helped make
the 2004 APCHI (held in Rotorua)
conference a success. This brought together more NZ and
international human computer interaction academics and industry
practitioners than ever before seen in New Zealand. We were
supported in our quest by Don Norman
(NN/group) and Susan Dray (Dray &
Associates) who were our keynote speakers. We also toured NZ
with Don Norman, bringing the usability message to many people who had
not heard it before.
Kirsten Thomas, our former Usability Lab manager, was instrumental
in founding a Usability
Professionals' Assocation New Zealand Chapter.
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