Title Page
List of Figures
List of Abbreviations
What is usability anyway?
Importance of improving usability
User centred design
Case Study

Appendix 1

Appendix 2




Alan Blundell


This dissertation was submitted for the Degree of Bachelor of Philosophy in the

University of Liverpool

in part fulfilment of the Modular Program

December 1997




This dissertation evaluates the role usability plays in the development and design of interactive systems. It analyses various definitions of usability and assesses the way in which the application of design principles, such as feedback & perception, can aid a user's ability to interact with a system. The employment of usability assessment and evaluation methodology is discussed at both theoretical and practical levels. The impact that user participation in systems design and implementation can have on usability is considered, and a case study of the Reuters Customer Centred Design Process is presented.



"This work is original and has not been submitted previously in support of any degree qualification or course"

Signed by

Alan Blundell

on 15/12/97



Firstly, I wish to give my thanks to George Herterich, my research tutor, who has given me help and advice, not only during the dissertation stage of my degree but also during one of my taught modules. Throughout my course he has always been available, often at short notice, to give guidance and constructive comment in response to my ideas which, in turn, has enabled me to keep on target and this is much appreciated.

I wish to thank Lisa Wrigley, my partner in life who has had to suffer my studies to the point of becoming an IT widow, for the support and understanding she has shown me without which I wouldn't have finishe my degree. Cheers for the regular supply of coffee that has seen me through those cold winter nights and cool beer during the summers. Many thanks for keeping me sane and ensuring that I kept up the enthusiasm to complete the job!

I also wish to thank HSE for supporting my work over the last 3 years.

Last, but not least, I thank Sandy Schmid of the Reuters Usability Group who gave me, not only her time, but an excellent understanding of their usability methodology allowing my work to reflect the practicalities of usability design in a working environment.


Throughout the text of the dissertation reference is made to the user. For ease of reading only I have declared the user to be male. In practise of course, a user can be male or female.

Copyright 1999 Alan Blundell