Usability of Complex Information Systems: Evaluation of User Interaction, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Usability of Complex Information Systems

Evaluation of User Interaction, 1st Edition

Edited by Michael Albers, Brian Still

CRC Press

399 pages | 72 B/W Illus.

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Why do enterprise systems have complicated search pages, when Google has a single search box that works better? Why struggle with an expense reimbursement system that is not as easy as home accounting software? Although this seems like comparing apples to oranges, as information and communication technologies increasingly reach into every industry the demand for easy-to-use work tools continues to grow. An exploration of cutting-edge approaches for evaluating the usability of complex user interaction, Usability of Complex Information Systems: Evaluation of User Interaction focuses on improving design and communicating content to the end user.

The book continues the conversation about the evolution of usability, asking how we can design and evaluate these complex systems and the complex work they support. It describes and analyzes approaches to teaching, testing, analyzing, or managing usability studies—approaches that involve technical communicators making novel contributions to how we think about and evaluate increasingly complex systems. The book contains case studies on different types of complexity, including:

  • A complex work environment, requiring collaboration among different people or a goal sustained over time, and often in the face of distractions, interruptions, and planned pauses
  • A complex information context, one with no single answer, where the data changes dynamically or where the best answer may rely on other aspects of a fluid environment
  • A complex technology, in which people use many different applications in their work and collaboration
  • A complex topic, requiring advanced technical or domain knowledge

Even systems that seem simple are, in fact, complex. The shopping interface for an e-commerce system may not be complex, but the databases, business processes, and logistics behind it certainly are. The examination of different aspects of designing and examining complexity presented in this book brings you a step further in developing a deeper understanding of what it takes to make complex systems work.


"Taken as a whole, the papers in this book suggest a strong new direction for research in the user-centered design field. They highlight the importance of framing discussions of usability in an overall system, with all the complexity and potential framing that discussion entails."

—Cohn Birge, University of Washington, in Technical Communication, November 2011

Table of Contents

Comprehending Complexity: Solutions for Understanding the Usability of Information

Usability of Complex Information Systems, M.J. Albers

Combining Rhetorical Theory with Usability Theory to Evaluate Quality of Writing in Web-Based Texts, D. Hailey

Language Complexity and Usability,N. Jahnke

Innovation and Collaboration in Product Development: Creating a New Role for Usability Studies in Educational Publishing, T.W. Howard and M. Greer

Theorizing Complexity: Ideas for Conceptualizing Usability and Complex Systems

Mapping Usability: An Ecological Framework for Analyzing User Experience, B. Still

Usability and Information Relationships: Considering Content Relationships and Contextual Awareness When Testing Complex Information, M.J. Albers

Continuous Usability Evaluation of Increasingly Complex, V. Stantchev

Design Considerations for Usability Testing Complex Electronic Commerce Websites: A Perspective from the Literature, J. Fisher

Designing for Complexity: Methods of Conceptualizing Design Needs of Complex Systems

An Activity-Theoretical Approach to the Usability Testing of Information Products Meant to Support Complex Use,H. Shearer

Designing Usable and Useful Solutions for Complex Systems: A Case Study for Genomics Research, R.S. Dicks

Incorporating Usability into the API Design Process, R. Watson

Practical Approaches: Methods for Evaluating Complexity

Tapping into Desirability in User Experience, C.M. Barnum and L.A. Palmer

Novel Interaction Styles, Complex Working Contexts, and the Role of Usability, D. Golightly, M. D’Cruz, H. Patel, M. Pettitt, S. Sharples, A.W. Stedmon, and J.R. Wilson

Information Usability Testing as Audience and Context Analysis for Risk Communication, D.J. Kain, M. de Jong, and C.F. Smith

Usability Testing, User Goals, and Engagement in Educational Games, J. Cootey


Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
COMPUTERS / Internet / General
COMPUTERS / Social Aspects / Human-Computer Interaction
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Industrial Health & Safety