Usability in product development practice: An exploratory case study comparing four markets

Jasper van Kuijk, Liesbeth van Driel, Daan van Eijk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
217 Downloads (Pure)


This study explored how usability was dealt with in four product development organizations active in different sectors: high-end automotive, professional printers and copiers, office coffee makers and fast moving consumer goods. The primary differentiators of the selected cases were whether they were targeting businesses or consumers and the degree of product complexity. Interviews with 19 product development practitioners were conducted, focussing on three topics: 1) the product development process and the integration of user involvement, 2) multidisciplinary teamwork, and 3) organizational attitude towards usability. Based on the interviews, context descriptions of the companies were created and barriers and enablers for usability were identified. To verify the findings and to discuss remaining issues a feedback workshop was held in which the primary contact from each company participated. The results indicate that differences in product–market combination lead to differences in organizational attitude towards usability. The prioritization of usability in an organization seems to be influenced by the degree of product complexity (complex products are more prone to suffer from usability issues) and whether developers think that usability is a purchase consideration for their clients. The product–market combination a company targets also affects the methods for user-centred design that a company can apply and that are relevant. What methods for user-centred design are used also seems to be influenced by the attitude towards usability: if usability is considered more important, methods that require more resources can be applied.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-323
Number of pages16
JournalApplied Ergonomics: human factors in technology and society
Issue numberMarch
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Product ergonomics
  • Usability
  • Ergonomics integration


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