Usability Engineering

Month Six


The Usability Engineering course enabled me to better develop, conduct, and interpret/analyze usability for mobile games in terms of story, immersion, aesthetics, user interface, mechanics, graphic elements, etc.

  • Applied user-interface design principles from a usability perspective. This includes concepts such as clarity, interaction, attention, control, manipulation, consistency, and visual hierarchy.
  • Conducted user analysis, addressing styles and appearance appealing to the potential gamer, as well as, how the gamer will interact with the mobile game.
  • Actual testing and analysis of an existing or novel game.


Human factors, interaction design, and usability engineering are all vital concepts for game development and software engineering. The subjects and principles overlap and are interwoven, building a unique overall usability model. Using the chart below, I demonstrate how human interaction and interaction design combine to create usability engineering.

Target List/Relationships

From the revised venn diagram above, I am demonstrating how human factors are compiled within interaction design. Subsequently, interaction design, with human factors, combine to create usability engineering. The principles included in human factors of consistency, user-centering, and support are required for effective interaction design. Subsequently, effective interaction design, with principles of human factors included, are required for usability engineering;

  • learnability,
  • flexibility,
  • robustness,
  • efficiency,
  • memorability,
  • error correcting,
  • compliance,
  • satisfaction,
  • understandability,
  • predictability, and
  • feedback.

Design Trade-Offs

Every time we make a decision, we are making a trade-off. Every time we make a trade-off we are consciously compromising on something. Every design decision I make has a trade-off: I achieve something at the cost of something else and have to choose my priorities carefully. Once I understood the trade-off, I am able to make an intelligent decision based on my specific set of priorities (Bass, 2011).

This one is a classic for me during this stage of my capstone design process: a feature which looks great but affects usability in a negative way. Should I sacrifice usability for the sake of slick design? Would a UI solution that boosts usability but looks a bit outdated be better?

For my capstone project idea, a complex background, with images of a real pet spa set up, with reception area, exam rooms, grooming areas, and boarding kennels appeals to me.

However, the complexity of the design may be too busy, and not inviting enough to a potential player, to encourage further engagement. On the flip side, a simple start screen, with instructions, and a start here button will boost usability, but may be less appealing and outdated. Users may be more tolerant of minor usability issues when they find an interface visually appealing, so I will work to find a compromise.

Usability Testing Techniques

When game designers embrace design-led development, the full benefit of human-centered design can be challenging. A designer’s interactions with the end users may be limited to only early research and late evaluation phases of the design process, while the work in between does not involve the end user input (Elizarova, Briselli, & Dowd, 2017). In this case, we miss an opportunity to discover some of the most valuable and customer-centered ideas.

Participatory Design

The Participatory Design approach invites stakeholders (e.g. customers, employees, partners, citizens, consumers) into the design process to better understanding, meet, and potentially preempt their needs (Elizarova, Briselli, & Dowd, 2017). Per the invitation seen in the image below, I invited a panel

of individuals to attend a Participatory Design workshop, for fleshing out the initial ideas for my capstone game project. The panel met and collaborated. Using the Padlet Platform, the results of the creative process were recorded by each individual participant (See Image Below). The results can be

viewed by visiting the site here. These results were compiled, and used in the initial stages of my concept design. The participatory process was invaluable as a tool, providing ideas, needs, and goals I may not have considered early in the design process without the participants’ input.

Diary Study

It is my intention to conduct a Diary Study. A diary study is a research method to collect qualitative data on user behaviors, activities, and experiences over time (Flaherty, 2016). In a diary study, data is self-reported by participants over an extended period of time, ranging a few days to a month or longer. During my defined 30-day reporting period, study participants will be asked to maintain a provided digital diary, Day One, and record specific information about my game’s activities to be identified and studied (See Imager Below). To enhance response, participants will be periodically

prompted through a notification received daily or at select times during the study. Diary studies are considered the poor man’s field study because they may not provide observations as rich or detailed as a true field study, but they can serve as a decent estimate I can use in my design process (Flaherty, 2016).


Both Participatory Design and Diary Studies are qualitative. I prefer qualitative information, to obtain descriptions and information directly from the participants, in details only they can relay. While qualitative in nature, the data will be categorized via themes, with all ideas considered. This is a desirable process when creative ideas versus facts and figures are sought. I am seeking open-ended, unobstructed information from my participants to supplement my lack of creativity.