Using Usability

NCITS approves software usability standard for software deployment

Washington, DC  November 20, 2001  At a meeting of the National Committee for Information Technology Standards (NCITS), the Executive Board approved the Common Industry Format (CIF) for Usability Test Reports (NCITS 354). The document standardizes the types of information captured in the software development testing process.

Usability is a key factor in predicting successful deployment of software. The purpose of the CIF standard is to make it easier to incorporate usability into the procurement decision-making process for software.  It enables human factors engineers and usability professionals in software development companies to report the methods and results of usability tests in a common format to customers.

"Usability is all too often overlooked when software is evaluated prior to purchase," explained Susan Zevin, Deputy Director of the Information Technology Laboratory at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). "Millions of dollars are spent correcting problems that might have been prevented if testing were done with users before releasing a product."

The CIF specification, developed through a series of workshops sponsored by NIST, was created by the Industry USability Reporting (IUSR) Project involving 70 representatives from industry, government, and academia.

Using its fast-track process for mature specifications, NCITS completed its work on the documentincluding a 6-week public review and response to all commentsin 4 ½ months.

"Even in the fast moving, market-driven world of technology standards this is an impressive accomplishment," said Rhett Dawson, President of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), the industry trade group that hosts INCITS.  "We received a document from NIST that reflected technical excellence, and the public providing comments clearly agreed that should become a standard."