Corry, Frick, and Hansen make a case for rapid prototyping and usability testing in the process of web design. They do this by way of the “Illustrative Case Study” of the article’s subtitle, which describes how a large midwestern university went about redesigning of their website. The team tasked with analyzing the existing site was (interestingly enough) “[a]n interdisciplinary team of faculty, graduate students, and staff” (p. 65). (I wonder, a decade-and-a-half of web development later, if any such institutional body will still task a project this way?) Their process was an iterative one that moved from paper prototyping to testing elements of the site itself online.
One of the more helpful aspects of this article was the four-point definition of usability that the authors (citing Dumas and Redish, 1993) put forward: “(a) usability means focusing on users; (b) people use products to be productive; (c) users are busy people trying to accomplish tasks; and (d) users decide when a product is easy to use” (p. 66).