Usability design yet to gain ground in India

Usability is an approach to product development that incorporates direct user feedback throughout the development cycle in order to reduce costs and create products and tools that meet user needs.

India may have achieved global recognition as an IT powerhouse, but still needs to grow in terms of usability. Towards this end, Human Factors International, a usability service provider, hosted the inaugural ‘World Usability Day’ in Mumbai and organized a conference on ‘Building India’s Competitive Edge through Usability’.

Emphasizing the essence of usability and India’s position globally, Eric Schaeffer, CEO, HFI, said,”India offers a unique mixture of cultures and languages. Considering the innate creativity of Indian culture, Indian usability practitioners can offer a unique insight into the software usability world combined with its prowess in IT.”

“In the entire APAC region, China has already adopted usability in a large way. My fear is that in the global race to IT supremacy, India will be left behind due to its apathy towards usability.”

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>>> UPDATED 7 November 2005

Vinay Venkatraman comments as follows:

“Historically in India, usability was never a prime importance as most early companies started with software servicing and then only recently have began developing products from ground up.

Many software product companies in India have recently taken usability and user experience very seriously and see the value in it.

Still a lot of ventures get most of their work from abroad and do not always have the liberty to make fundamental design changes in the software architecture, thus making do with cosmetic treatment of the UI. There is also a huge misbalance between the number of software developers vs usability professionals. This gap needs to be filled in by academic institutions without diluting the quality for the sake of just producing large number of usability professionals, which is not easy at all.

What is even more important is to inculcate usability as fundamental thought process in software engineering courses. A simple heuristic evaluation by developer as an ongoing process in coding can add significantly higher value than a bunch of usability experts providing afterthoughts and fixing problems.

Looking at the situation more optimistically, there is a huge potential for providing usability and design services for small and medium scale software companies in India, which not only creates new opportunities but also provides significant competitive edge for such business to grow.”

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