Stephanie Rosenbaum

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Stephanie Rosenbaum is founder and president of Tec‑Ed, Inc., a 15-person consultancy specializing in usability research and information design. Now in its 41st year of business, Tec‑Ed maintains four offices: Ann Arbor, Michigan; Palo Alto, California; Rochester, New York; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Clients include Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems, Yahoo!, eBay, Intuit, Xerox, and many smaller firms.


A member of Association for Computing Machinery Special Interst Group for Computer‑Human Interaction (ACM SIGCHI), the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES), and the Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA), as well as a Fellow and Exemplar of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), Ms. Rosenbaum is a past vice-chair of ACM SIGDOC and headed the STC’s Research Grants Committee for five years. Her research background includes anthropology studies at Columbia University and experimental psychology research for the University of California at Berkeley.


Book Publications


Ms. Rosenbaum’s publications include a chapter in John Carroll’s volume on Minimalism Beyond the Nurnberg Funnel, published by MIT Press, and a chapter on “Making Usability Research Usable” in Klaus Kaasgaard’s book on Software Design and Usability, published by the Copenhagen Business School Press. With Tec‑Ed principal Lori Anschuetz, she contributed the chapter on “Expanding Roles for Technical Communicators” in the 2002 book, Reshaping Technical Communication, published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. . With Chauncey Wilson, she contributed a chapter on “Categories of ROI and their Practival Implications” to the second edition of Cost Justifying Usability published in 2005 by Bias & Mayhew. She contributed an invited chapter on "The Future of Usability Evaluation" to a forthcoming volume on Maturing Usability published by Springer Human-Computer Interaction Series in 2007 from the European COST294-MAUSE usability research community.

For a list of Ms. Rosenbaum’s papers and conference publications, see the next pages.


Educational Background


The University of Michigan, A.B. from the Honors College

Major in mathematics and philosophy

University of California at Berkeley, M.A. in Philosophy

Thesis committee included John Searle (author of Speech Acts) and Lofteh Zadeh (fuzzy logic pioneer)


Awards and Honors


Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)



  • IEEE Third Millennium Medal (2000)

  • Goldsmith Award from Professional Communication Society for distinguished contributions to engineering communication (1998)

  • Schlesinger Award for distinguished service to the Professional Communication Society (1996)


Society for Technical Communication



  • Exemplar, in recognition of career-long contributions as a leader and mentor (2000)

  • Best of Show, Outstanding Journal Article Award, for “Documentation and Training Productivity Benchmarks” (1991, reprinted in 50th anniversary edition of Technical Communication, 2003)

  • Fellow, for leadership in combining the skills of business and technical communication (1988)

  • University of Washington

  •             “Mickey” award (2005)


Papers and Conference Presentations


2008


Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Judith Ramey. SIG on “Current Issues in Assessing and Improving Information Usability.” Extended Abstracts of CHI 2008. April 2008. Florence, Italy.

Beale, R., Courage, C., Hammontree, M., Jain, J., Rosenbaum S., Vaughan, M., Welsh, D. Panel on “Longitudianl Usability Data Collection: Art versus Science?” Presented at CHI 2008. April 2008. Florence, Italy.


2007



  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Judith Ramey. SIG on “Current Issues in Assessing and Improving Information Usability.” Extended Abstracts of CHI 2007. April 2008. San Jose, CA.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. Panel on “Training up to Senior-Bridging the gulf between internships and senior positions.” Presented at UPA 2007. June 2007. Austin, TX.

  • Kantner, Laurie and Stephanie Rosenbaum. “Field Usability Testing: Method, Not Compromise.” Presented at IPCC 2007. October 2007. Seattle, WA.


2006



  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Judith Ramey. SIG on “Current Issues in Assessing and Improving Information Usability.” Extended Abstracts of CHI 2006. April 2006. Quebec, Canada.

  • Kindlund, E., Kaasgaard, K., Nieters, J., Rohn, J., Rohrer, C., Rosenbaum, S. Panel on “How Does Usability Research Improve 21st Century Product Design?” Presented at HFES 2006. October 2006. San Francisco, CA.


2005



  • Kantner, Laurie and Stephanie Rosenbaum. “How Field Research Improves Web Usability.” Presented at UPA Michigan/IUE 2005. March 2005. Ypsilanti, MI.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Judith Ramey. SIG on “Current Issues in Assessing and Improving Information Usability.” Extended Abstracts of CHI 2005. April 2005. Portland, OR.

  • Braun, K., Kaasgaard, K., Rosenbaum, S., Wichansky, A. Panel on “Corporate Re-Orgs: Poison or Catalyst to HCI.”  Presented at CHI 2005. April 2005. Portland, OR.

  • Dworman, G., Kantner, L., Rosenbaum, S. “Helping Users to Use Help: Results from Two International Conference Workshops.” Talk based on paper presented at IPCC 2005. July 2005. Limerick, Ireland.

    2004Chisnell, Dana and Stephanie Rosenbaum. SIG on “Current Issues in Assessing and Improving Information Usability.” Extended Abstracts of CHI 2004.April 2004, Vienna, Austria.

  • Kantner, Laurie and Stephanie Rosenbaum. “Helping Users to Use Help-Improving Interation with Help Systems.” Workshop presented at UPA 2004, June 2004, Minneapolis, MN.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Helping Users to Use Help.” Workshop presented at IPCC 2004, September 2004, Minneapolis, MN.

  • Kantner, Laurie and Stephanie Rosenbaum. “Field Research and Laboratory Studies-Partners in Usability.” Presentation at Michigan State University Usability & Accessibility Conference 2004, October 2004, Lansing, MI.


2003



  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Measuring Usability ROI to Justify Usability Investments.” Workshop presented at UPA 2003, June 2003, Phoenix, AZ.

  • Sova, Deborah, Laurie Kantner, and Stephanie Rosenbaum. “Alternative Methods for Field Usability Research.” In Proceedings of SIGDOC 2003, October 2003, San Francisco, CA.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Judith Ramey. “Current Issues in Assessing and Improving Information Usability.” In Extended Abstracts of CHI 2003, April 2003, Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

  • Anschuetz, Lori and Stephanie Rosenbaum. “Ethnographic Interviews Guide Design of Ford Vehicles Website.” In Proceedings of CHI 2003, April 2003, Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Stalking the User: How Anthropology Helps Design Usable Products and Websites.” Idea Market paper presented at Forum 2003, July 2003, Milan, Italy.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Alternatives to Usability Testing for Successful Products and Websites.” Best Practices paper presented at Forum 2003, July 2003, Milan, Italy.

  • Kantner, Laurie and Stephanie Rosenbaum. “Usable Computers for the Elderly: Applying Coaching Experiences.” In Proceedings of IPCC 2003, September 2003, Orlando, FL.


2002



  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “ Stalking the User: How Anthropology Helps Design Successful Products.” Paper presented at the Ann Arbor IT Zone, March 2002, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie (Organizer), Gilbert Cockton, Kara Coyne, Michael Muller, and Thyra Rauch. “Focus Groups in HCI: Wealth of Information or Waste of Resources?” Proceedings of CHI 2002, (2002), 702-703.

  • Wixon, Dennis R. (moderator), Judy Ramey (moderator), Karen Holtzblatt and Hugh Beyer, JoAnn Hackos, Stephanie Rosenbaum, Colleen Page, and Sari A. and Karri-Pekka Laakso. “Usability in Practice: Field Methods Evolution and Revolution.” Proceedings of CHI 2002, (2002): 880-884.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie (moderator), Chauncey E. Wilson (moderator), Timo Jokela,

  • Janice A. Rohn, Trixi B. Smith, and. Karel Vredenburg “ Usability in Practice: User Experience Lifecycle-Evolution and Revolution.” Proceedings of CHI 2002, (2002): 898-903.


2001



  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Exploring Measurement and Evaluation Methods for Accessibility.” Position paper for UPA 2001 Workshop #6, Lake Las Vegas, NV, June 2001.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Judith Ramey. “Beyond the Usability Test: Advanced Usability Issues and Methods for HCI.” Proceedings for IHM-HCI 2001 Vol. II (2001): 205-206.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Judith Ramey. SIG on “Current Issues in Assessing and Improving Documentation Usability.” Extended Abstracts of CHI 2001 (2001): xxv.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Why Usability is the Most Important Feature of Your Website.”

  • Paper presented at the monthly meeting of the Software Development Forum’s Marketing SIG, Palo Alto, CA, June, 2001.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Strategic Usability: A Toolkit of Methods for Success.” Paper presented at the Online Research and Usability Conference, Institute for International Research, San Francisco, October, 2001.


2000



  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Not Just a Hammer: When and How to Employ Multiple

    Methods in Usability Programs” Proceedings of UPA 2000 (2000): Section 19.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Tec-Ed Organizational Overview: 30 Years of User Advocacy.”

    In the workshop, National and International Frameworks for Collaboration Between HCI Research and Practice, presented at CHI 2000, The Hague, The Netherlands, April 2000.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie, Janice Rohn, and Judee Humburg. “A Toolkit for Strategic Usability: Results from Workshops, Panels, and Surveys.” Proceedings of CHI 2000 (2000): 337-344.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Dana Chisnell. “What’s Different about Conducting Usability Studies in Different Countries?” PostHarvest of Forum 2000. (2000): 68-69.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Dana Chisnell. “Multinational Usability Research: What Methodologies Work Best and Why:” PostHarvest of Forum 2000. (2000): 70-72.


1999



  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Alternative Methods for Usability Testing.” Paper presented at SD99, the annual conference of Software Development, San Francisco, May 1999.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Human Factors and Marketing Partnerships: How Usability Research Contributes to Successful Products.” Paper presented at the monthly meeting of the Software Development Forum’s Marketing SIG, Palo Alto, CA, May 1999.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie, Janice Rohn, and Judee Humburg. “What Makes Strategic Usability Succeed or Fail? Lessons From the Field.” Panel organized for CHI 99,

    CHI 99 Extended Abstracts, (1999): 93-94.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Usability Issues for Visual Communication.” Part of the Progression, “Usability Progression: Catching the Main Currents in Usability” in Proceedings of 46th Annual Conference of the Society for Technical Communication, (1999): 243.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie, Deborah Hinderer, and Philip Scarborough. “How Usability Engineering Can Improve Clinical Information Systems.” Proceedings of UPA ’99. (1999):135-140.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Iterative Usability Methods: Why Testing Isn’t Enough.”

    Paper presented at monthly meeting of the Michigan Ohio CHI chapter, Ann Arbor, October 1999.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “How Usability Research Contributes to Successful

    Products and Training.” Paper presented at monthly meeting of the Professional Association for Computer Training (PACT), Minneapolis, October, 1999.

  • Hinderer, Deborah, Stephanie Rosenbaum, and Philip Scarborough. “Challenges in Conducting Usability Research with Physicians.” Proceedings of ErgoCon 99. (1999): 69-72.


1998



  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Philip Scarborough. “Comparison of Three Methods for the Usability Evaluation of Web Sites.” Proceedings of ErgoCon 98. (1998): 25-30

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and J.O Bugental. “Measuring the Success of Visual Communication in User Interfaces.” Technical Communication 45, no. 4 (1998): 517-528

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Heuristic Evaluation vs. Laboratory Testing: When Should You Use These Methods?” Part of the Progression “Usability Progression: Making Smart Choices in Usability Testing in Proceedings of 45th Annual Conference of the Society for Technical Communication, (1998): 372.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie, and Janice Redish. “Practitioners: What Research Should STC Fund to Help You at Work?” A panel discussion in Proceedings of 45th Annual Conference of the Society for Technical Communication. (1998): 257-258.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Amy Crownover. “Designing User Interfaces to Maximize User Acceptance of Clinical Information Systems.” A position paper for a workshop on “User Interfaces for Computer-Based Patient Records” at CHI ’98, 1998.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie, Judee Humburg, and Janice Rohn. Workshop on “Unpacking Strategic Usability: Corporate Strategy and Usability Research” CHI 98 Summary. (1998): 205.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie, Janice Anne Rohn, and Judee Humburg. “Unpacking Strategic Usability: Corporate Strategy and Usability Research.” Proceedings of 1998 conference of the Usability Professionals Association. (1998): 235-239

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Cost-Benefits of Usability: Increased Product Profitability Through Usability Engineering.” Paper presented at SD99, the annual conference of Software Development, San Francisco, May, 1999.


1997



  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Usability and the Consultancy.” From the panel “Corporate Strategy and Usability Research: A New Partnership.” Proceedings of CHI 97, March 27, 1997, Atlanta, GA.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Janice Rohn. “Testing the Sizzle of the Steak: Usability Testing of Packaging. Proceedings of UPA ’97. (1997): 167-173.

  • Kantner, Laurie, Stephanie Rosenbaum, and Connie Leas. “The Best of Both Worlds:

    Combining Usability Testing and Documentation Projects.” Proceedings of IPCC 97. (1997): 355-363.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Lori Anschuetz. “Vendor Partners: The Collaborating Experts Model.” The Five-Year Horizon: Skills and Education for the Information Technologist RPI Symposium, September 27, 1997, Troy, NY.

  • Kantner, Laurie, and Stephanie Rosenbaum. “Usability Studies of WWW Sites: Heuristic Evaluations vs. Laboratory Testing.” Proceedings of SIGDOC ’97. (1997): 153-160

  • Leas, Connie, and Stephanie Rosenbaum. Testing the Usability of Telephone Conference Software: Evaluation of Data Collection Methodologies.” Proceedings of HCI International ’97 (1997): 56

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Lori Anschuetz. “Advanced Usability Topics.” A progression from the Proceedings of the 44th Annual Conference of the Society For Technical Communication (1997): 280-283


1996



  • Humburg, Judee, Stephanie Rosenbaum, and Judith Ramey. “Corporate Strategy and Usability Research: A New Partnership.” Workshop presented at CHI 96, Vancouver, BC April, 1996.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “What Research Should STC Sponsor?” Proceedings of 43rd Annual Conference of the Society for Technical Communication. (1996): 217.

  • Wilson, Chauncey E. and Stephanie Rosenbaum. “Advanced Issues in Usability: A Progression.” Proceedings of 43rd Annual Conference of the Society for Technical Communication. (1996): 290.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Lori Anschuetz. “Whole Product Usability: Integrating Documentation and Rest-of-Product Usability Testing,” Proceedings of ErgoCon 96. (1996): 17-21.


1995



  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Achieving Usable Documentation.” ToRCHI ’95. Toronto, ON. February 1995.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Laurie Kantner. “Alternative Methods for Usability Testing.” ErgoCon 95. Palo Alto, CA. May 1995.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie, Judy Ramey, and Judee Humburg. “Tools and Trade-Offs: Making Wise Choices for User-Centered Design.” CHI ’95. Denver, CO. May 1995.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Heuristic Evaluations: Uses and Misuses” UPA ’95. Portland, ME. July 1995.


1994



  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Judy Ramey. “Current Issues in Assessing and Improving Documentation Usability.” CHI ’94. 1994.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie, Judy Ramey, and Judee Humburg and Anne Seeley. “Methods for Early Usability Design.” CHI ’94. 1994.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Lori Anschuetz. “Field Studies: Taking Usability on the Road.” UPA ’94. San Jose, CA. July 1994.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Lori Anschuetz. “Whole-Product Usability: Integrating Documentation and Rest-of-Product Usability Testing.” IPCC 94.


1993



  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Alternative Methods for Usability Testing of Online Information.” IBM Toronto ’93. Toronto, Canada. January 1993.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Usability Testing Workshop.” University of Wisconsin Course on “Usability Testing: The Quality Tool for Customer Satisfaction.” Madison, Wisconsin. January 1993.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Current Issues in Assessing and Improving Documentation Usability.” InterCHI ’93 SIG. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. April 1993.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Alternative Methods for Software Usability Testing.” S.T.A.R. ‘93. Santa Clara, California. May 1993.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Documentation Usability Testing.” Federal Express Seminar. Memphis, Tennessee. May 1993.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie, Judy Ramey, Judee Humburg, and Anne Seeley. “Methods of Early Usability Design.” Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Seattle, Washington. October 1993.


1992



  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie, Judy Ramey, Judee Humburg, and Anne Seeley. “Early Design Methodology for Usable Products and Documentation.” SIGCHI ‘92 Tutorial, Association for Computing Machinery Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Monterey, California. May 1992.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Collecting Usability Data: Alternatives to Testing.” Society for Technical Communication, Silicon Valley Chapter meeting presentation. Sunnyvale, California. February 1992.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Alternative Methods for Software Usability Testing: Qualitative and Quantitative Studies.” Presentation to the Special Interest Group in Software Testing, British Computer Society. London, England. September 1992.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Judy Ramey. “Selecting Appropriate Subjects for Documentation Usability Testing.” University of Washington Course on “Usability Testing of the Documentation and User Interface of Computer Systems. Seattle, Washington. March 1992.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Collecting Usability Data: Alternatives to Testing.”  IPCC ‘92. Santa Fe, New Mexico. September 1992.


1991



  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Improving the Usability of Documentation and Software Interfaces.” Preconference Workshop at the 9th Annual Association for Computing Machinery SIGDOC ‘91 Conference. Chicago, Illinois. October 1991.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Communication as Product: Online Courseware.” Proceedings of the 1991 IEEE International Professional Communication Conference. Orlando, Florida. October 1991.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Testing Software for Usability.” Eighth International Conference on Testing Computer Software. Washington, D.C. June 1991.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Judy Ramey. “Current Issues in Assessing and Improving Documentation Usability.” SIGCHI ’91, Association for Computing Machinery Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. New Orleans, Louisiana. April 1991.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Improving the Usability of Software Interfaces.” Ann Arbor Chapter Association for Computing Machinery. Ann Arbor, Michigan. September 1991.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Writing for the Computer World: A Conversation with Stephanie Rosenbaum.” Issues in Writing. 3.2. 1991.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Testing for Usability.” Course at the Engineering Conferences at the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor, Michigan. July 1991.


1990



  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie, and John P. (Jack) Barr. “Documentation and Training Productivity Benchmarks.” Technical Communication. Received the Society for Technical Communication’s “Outstanding Journal Article Award” best article for 1990. 37(4). November 1990. pp. 399-408.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie, and Judith Ramey. “Creating Usability Standards for Software Testing through Domain Analysis,” Seventh International Conference on Testing Computer Software. San Francisco, California. June 1990.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Mary Jane Northrop. “Improving the Usability of Documentation and Software Interfaces.” 1990 Association for Computing Machinery Eighth Annual International Conference on Systems Documentation. Little Rock, Arkansas. October 1990.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Judith Ramey. “Approaches to Evaluating Documentation Usability.” CHI ‘90 Special Interest Group Meeting. Seattle, Washington. April 1990.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “User Interface Design: Imperative for Information Transfer to End Users.” EPRI ‘90 Conference, Optical Discs: Information Technology for the Power Industry. Washington, D.C. October 1990.


1989



  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “The Role of Human Factors and Usability Testing in the Software Testing Process.” Speaker at the Sixth International Conference on Testing Computer Software. Arlington, Virginia. May 1989.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Usability Evaluation versus Usability Testing: When and Why?” IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication. 32(4). December 1989. pp. 210‑216.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “User Support for CD-ROM: User-Interface Design, Documentation, and Packaging.” CD-ROM Developers Seminar. San Jose, California. May 1989.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Managing the Development of Interactive Hypermedia Applications.” Association for Computing Machinery SIGDOC ‘89. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. November 1989.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Selecting Appropriate Subjects for Documentation Usability Testing.” Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI ‘89). Boston, Massachusetts. September 1989.


1988



  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and R. Dennis Walters. “Design Requirements for Reference Documentation Usability Testing,” Proceedings of the 1988 IEEE International Professional Communication Conference. Seattle, Washington. October 1988.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “How to Analyze Your Findings and Recommend Improvements to the User Interface and Documentation.” Guest speaker at the College of Engineering, University of Washington’s course on “Usability Testing of the Documentation and User Interface of Computer Systems.” Santa Clara, California. August 1988.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Subject Selection.” Guest speaker at the University of Washington course on “Usability Testing of the Documentation and User Interface of Computer Systems.” Seattle, Washington. March 1988.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Subject Selection for Software Documentation Usability Testing.” The 5th International Conference on Testing Computer Software. Washington, D.C. June 1988.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Practical Aspects of Documentation Usability Testing.” The 36th Annual Technical Writer’s Institute. Troy, New York. June 1988.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Usability Testing and User-Interface Design for CD-ROM Products.” The Third International Conference on CD-ROM. Seattle, Washington. March 1988.


1987



  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “User-Interface Design for Optical Publishing Products.” Optical Publishing & Storage ‘87 Conference. New York, New York. November 1987.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie and Richard Gruen. “Effective Documentation and Marketing Support for CD-ROM Products,” Proceedings of the International Meeting for Optical Publishing and Storage, Optica ‘87 Conference. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. April 1987.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Selecting the Appropriate Subjects: Subject Selection for Documentation Usability Testing.” Proceedings of the 1987 IEEE International Professional Communication Conference. Winnipeg, Canada. October 1987.

  • Rosenbaum, Stephanie. “Managing the User-Interface Design Process.” The 35th Annual Technical Writer’s Institute. Troy, New York. June 1987.


Publication Statistics

Publication period start
1989
Publication period end
2010
Number of co-authors
21

Co-authors
Number of publications with favourite co-authors

Productive Colleagues
Most productive colleagues in number of publications

Publications

Rosenbaum, Stephanie, Ramey, Judith, Redish, Janice (Ginny) (2010): Current issues in assessing and improving information usability. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2010 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems , 2010, . pp. 3155-3158. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1753846.1753942

Jain, Jhilmil, Rosenbaum, Stephanie, Courage, Catherine (2010): Best practices in longitudinal research. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2010 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems , 2010, . pp. 3167-3170. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1753846.1753946

Rosenbaum, Stephanie, Braun, Kelly, Wixon, Dennis, Swamy, Seema, Laan, Krista Van, Wilson, Chauncey (2010): Investing in User Research: Making Strategic Choices. In: Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 54th Annual Meeting , 2010, . pp. 547-550. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/hfes/hfproc/2010/00000054/00000006/art00001

Courage, Catherine, Jain, Jhilmil, Rosenbaum, Stephanie (2009): Best practices in longitudinal research. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2009 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems , 2009, . pp. 4791-4794. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1520340.1520742

Rosenbaum, Stephanie, Ramey, Judith (2008): Current issues in assessing and improving information usability. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2008 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems April 5-10, 2008, . pp. 2403-2406. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1358628.1358694

Vaughan, Misha, Courage, Catherine, Rosenbaum, Stephanie, Jain, Jhilmil, Hammontree, Monty, Beale, Russell, Welsh, Dan (2008): Longitudinal usability data collection: art versus science?. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2008 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems April 5-10, 2008, . pp. 2261-2264. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1358628.1358664

Rosenbaum, Stephanie, Ramey, Judith (2005): Current issues in assessing and improving information usability. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2005 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems , 2005, . pp. 2053-2054. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1056808.1057096

Braun, Kelly, Kaasgaard, Klaus, Rosenbaum, Stephanie, Wichansky, Anna (2005): Corporate re-orgs: poison or catalyst to HCI?. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2005 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems , 2005, . pp. 1160-1161. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1056808.1056863

Kantner, Laurie, Sova, Deborah Hinderer, Rosenbaum, Stephanie (2003): Alternative methods for field usability research. In: ACM 21st International Conference on Computer Documentation , 2003, . pp. 68-72. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/944868.944883

Keirnan, Timothy, Anschuetz, Lori, Rosenbaum, Stephanie (2002): Combining usability research with documentation development for improved user support. In: ACM 20th International Conference on Computer Documentation , 2002, . pp. 84-89. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/584955.584968

Rosenbaum, Stephanie, Rohn, Janice Anne, Humburg, Judee (2000): A Toolkit for Strategic Usability: Results from Workshops, Panels, and Surveys. In: Turner, Thea, Szwillus, Gerd, Czerwinski, Mary, Peterno, Fabio, Pemberton, Steven (eds.) Proceedings of the ACM CHI 2000 Human Factors in Computing Systems Conference April 1-6, 2000, The Hague, The Netherlands. pp. 337-344. http://www.acm.org/pubs/articles/proceedings/chi/332040/p337-rosenbaum/p337-rosenbaum.pdf

Kantner, Laurie, Rosenbaum, Stephanie (1997): Usability Studies of WWW Sites: Heuristic Evaluation vs. Laboratory Testing. In: ACM 15th International Conference on Systems Documentation , 1997, . pp. 153-160. http://www.acm.org/pubs/articles/proceedings/doc/263367/p153-kantner/p153-kantner.pdf

Rosenbaum, Stephanie (1991): Current Issues in Assessing and Improving Documentation Usability. In: Robertson, Scott P., Olson, Gary M., Olson, Judith S. (eds.) Proceedings of the ACM CHI 91 Human Factors in Computing Systems Conference April 28 - June 5, 1991, New Orleans, Louisiana. pp. 487. http://www.acm.org/pubs/articles/proceedings/chi/108844/p487-rosenbaum/p487-rosenbaum.pdf

Rosenbaum, Stephanie (1989): Selecting Appropriate Subjects for Documentation Usability Testing. In: Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction , 1989, . pp. 620-627.

Rosenbaum, Stephanie

15.11 Commentary by Stephanie Rosenbaum

Gilbert Cockton’s chapter on Usability Evaluation includes a great deal of valuable, interesting, and well-reasoned information. However, its presentation and focus could be more helpful to the Interaction-Design.org audience. If some of this audience consists of practitioners—especially less-experienced practitioners—then Cockton is not speaking to their needs.

Who are you, the readers of this chapter? One of Interaction-Design.org’s tag lines says “making research accessible,” and its mission statement talks about producing top-grade learning materials to benefit industry and academia. It seems likely that many of you are practitioners in business, technology, healthcare, finance, government, and other applied fields.

As founder and CEO of a user experience consultancy, I find that most people—in both industry and academia—want to learn about usability evaluation as part of their goal to design better products, websites, applications, and services. Especially in industry, philosophical debates about points of definition take second place to the need to compete in the marketplace with usable, useful, and appealing products.

This is not a new observation. As early as 1993, Dumas and Redish [1] pointed out that we don't do usability testing as a theoretical exercise; we do it to improve products. Unfortunately, Cockton loses sight of this key objective and instead forces his readers to follow him as he presents, and then demolishes, an increasingly complex series of hypotheses about the meaning of usability. The danger of this approach is that a casual reader—especially one with a limited command of English—may learn from the chapter precisely the ideas Cockton eventually disproves.

For example, Cockton begins his chapter with several “ideal” propositions about usability as an inherent property of software that can be measured accurately by well-defined methods, regardless of the context of use. Yet as he states later in the chapter, the contextual nature of design—and thus usability—has long been known, not only in the 1988 Whiteside at al. publication Cockton mentions, but also in the work of Gould and Lewis in the 1970s, published in their seminal 1985 article [2].

Throughout his chapter, Cockton continues to build and revise his definitions of usability. The evolution of these definitions is interesting to me personally because of my academic degrees in the philosophy of language. But reading this chapter gives my colleagues in industry only limited help in their role as user experience practitioners conducting usability evaluations of products under development.

In Section 15.1.1—and implicitly throughout the chapter—Cockton associates usability primarily with interactive software. The concept of usability has never applied only to software; ease of use is important to all aspects of our daily life. In 1988, Don Norman wrote about the affordances of door handles [3]. Giving a guest lecture on usability evaluation, I was surprised and impressed by an attendee’s comment describing how his company conducted usability testing of electric table saws.

In Section 15.1.2, Cockton describes “a dilemma at the heart of the concept of usability: is it a property of systems or a property of usage?” Why can’t it be both? Interactive systems are meaningless without users, and usage must be of something.

The discussion of damaged merchandise (invalid usability methods) in Section 15.2.1 misses the point that most usability work involves applied empirical methods rather than formal experiments. There are—and will always be—evaluator effects in any method which has not been described in enough detail to replicate it. The fact that evaluator effects exist underlines the importance of training skilled evaluators.

I am concerned that Cockton is emphasizing a false dichotomy when he says, “If software can be inherently usable, then usability can be evaluated solely through direct inspection. If usability can only be established by considering usage, then indirect inspection methods (walkthroughs) or empirical user testing methods must be used to evaluate.”

There need not be a dichotomy between essentialist ontologies and relational ontologies of usability as described in Section 15.2.4—and it’s not clear that this classification adds to the reader’s understanding of usability evaluation. Rather, if enough people in enough different contexts have similar user experiences, then guidelines about how to improve those experiences can be created and applied effectively, without using empirical methods for every evaluation.

Also, from a practical standpoint, it is simply not realistic to usability test every element of every product in all of its contexts. A sensible model is to include both inspection/heuristics and empirical research in a product development program, and move back and forth among the methods in a star pattern similar to the star life cycle of interactive system development, with its alternating waves of creative and structuring activities [4]. See Figures 1 and 2.

Star Life Cycle of Interactive System Development (adapted from Hix and Hartson, 1993)
Figure 15.1: Star Life Cycle of Interactive System Development (adapted from Hix and Hartson, 1993)
Usability Evaluation Star Model
Figure 15.2: Usability Evaluation Star Model

Thus a key element of usability evaluation is deciding when to employ guidelines and inspection (user-free methods) and when it’s critical to perform empirical research such as usability testing or contextual inquiry with the target audience. Planning the activities in a usability evaluation program—and the schedule and budget appropriate to each—is central to the responsibilities of an experienced and skilled usability practitioner. An encyclopedia chapter on usability evaluation should help readers understand this decision-making process.

By the time we get to sections 15.5.1 and 15.5.2, Cockton is accurately describing the situation usability practitioners face: “There is no complete published user testing method that novices can pick up and use ‘as is’. All user testing requires extensive project-specific planning and implementation. Instead, much usability work is about configuring and combining methods for project-specific use.”

It’s true that practitioners in industry, who perform most of today’s usability work, typically do not have time or resources to describe their methods in as much detail as do academic researchers. I wish this chapter had provided more references about how to learn usability evaluation skills; adding such a focus would make it more valuable for readers. (I have included a selection of these at the end of my commentary.) Although Cockton correctly points out that such resources are not sufficiently complete to follow slavishly, they are still helpful learning tools.

From my own experience at TecEd, the selection and combination of methods in a usability initiative are the most challenging—and interesting—parts of our consulting practice. For example, our engagements have included the following sequences:

Comcast

Qualitative research over a four-week period to learn about customers’ enjoyment of Comcast Video Instant Messaging and the ease of its use over time, as well as feature and guest-service preferences. The longitudinal study included three phases—we observed and interviewed pairs of Comcast customers, first in their own homes during in-home installation, then in the usability lab to collect more structured behavioral data in a controlled environment, and finally in focus groups to collect preference data after a month’s experience with the new service.

Ford Motor Company

Ethnographic interviews at the homes of 19 vehicle owners throughout the United States. We observed vehicle records and photographed and analyzed artifacts (see Figure 3) to learn how Web technology could support the information needs of vehicle owners. Next we conducted interviews at the homes of 10 vehicle buyers to learn what information they need to make a purchase decision, where they find it, and what they do with it. We subsequently conducted another cycle of interviews at the homes of 13 truck buyers to learn similar information, as well as how truck buyers compare to other vehicle buyers.

Philips Medical Systems

Multi-phase qualitative research project with physicians and allied health personnel during the alpha test of a clinical information system at a major U.S. hospital. After initial “out of box” usability testing at the hospital, we coordinated audiotape diary recording and conducted weekly ethnographic interviews, then concluded the project with a second field usability test after six weeks.

A Major Consumer Electronics Company

Unmoderated card sorting, followed by an information architecture (IA) exploration to help define the user interface for a new product. We began with a two-hour workshop to brainstorm terms for the card sorting, then created and iterated lists of terms, and launched the sorting exercise. For the qualitative IA exploration, we emulated field research in the usability laboratory, a methodology for gaining some benefits of ethnography when it isn’t practical to visit users in the field. We used stage design techniques to create three “environments”: home, office, and restaurant (see Figure 4). In these environments, we learned some contextual information despite the lab setting.

Cisco Systems

Early field research for the Cisco Unified Communications System, observing how people use a variety of communication methods and tools in large enterprise environments. We began each site visit with a focus group, then conducted contextual inquiry with other participants in their own work settings. Two teams of two researchers (one from TecEd, one from Cisco) met in parallel with participants, to complete each site visit in a day. After all the visits, Cisco conducted a full-day data compilation workshop with the research teams and stakeholders. Then TecEd prepared a project report (see Figure 5) with an executive summary that all participating companies received, which was their incentive to join the study.

Rosenbaum, Stephanie (2008): The Future of Usability Evaluation : Increasing Impact on Value. In: "Maturing Usability" Springer .