Abandoning the five-user assumption in human computer interaction

Simone Borsci • 02 October 2013

For more than twenty years the idea that five users were enough for reliable, yet low-cost usability testing was considered a rule of thumb in the Human Computer Interaction field. This so-called five-user assumption is the belief that it is possible to identify more than 80% of usability issues with a product or system for a relatively small investment of time and money. Although the scientific community has always been split between those who have strongly supported this rule of thumb and those who have been critical of it, the one size-fits-all solution has been taken up by many researchers and practitioners in a variety of fields, its popularity likely the result of its simplicity and low-cost…

Jennifer Martin (researcher at Nottingham University) and I discuss this issue on the Ergonomist (No 519, Sept 2013,  p. 4-5). The online version of this article will be available soon.

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