5 Must Have Usability Factors of Knowledge Base Software

By Doron Gower   |   August 1, 2018
5 Must Have Usability Factors of Knowledge Base Software
Understanding knowledge base software usability begins with defining the ease of use. ISO 9241 established these standards for human-computer interaction.

Known as the “five E’s,” the definition seeks to establish specific goals with efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction during use.

More comprehensively, the five E’s are characteristics a product, including knowledge base software, must meet:

  1. Effective
  2. Efficient
  3. Engaging
  4. Error tolerant
  5. Easy to learn

From a User’s Viewpoint

While you may think it is difficult to quantify the five characteristics for an objective assessment, it is possible to do this based on user requirements to complete a task. By separating usability into specific features, you can see the user’s requirements in a multi-dimensional way, and usability develops into more than a simple requirement that the knowledge base software is “easy to use.”

To quantify these features further, begin by developing objectives for each user group. You will derive several benefits to doing so. When you specify user groups and discover the objectives may be correct for one group, but not another, you will discover key differences in user needs. Secondly, you will develop clear, concise statements about requirements. Lastly, these objectives can be useful to building consensus between the groups regarding user analysis.

You can accomplish this exercise at the initiation of a project using knowledge base software, prior to any user observation or analysis being completed. Points of agreement are determined, and points of disagreement may indicate a need to better understand the user groups. Furthermore, the set of objectives can serve as a benchmark for future projects.

Usability Objectives

You can tie each characteristic to a usability objective. For instance:

  • Efficient – “The user will successfully complete registration in under two minutes.”
  • Effective – “Less than three percent of registrations will have omissions or errors requiring follow-up.”
  • Engaging – “A minimum of 85 percent of users will express comfort with the knowledge base software.”
  • Error tolerant – “The software will validate all selections and allow user to confirm prior to completing registrations.”
  • Easy to learn – “Users will successfully complete a registration without help screens.”

User-centered designs and usability are iterative. The work progresses through a cycle of theory and evaluation with users and the design solutions in knowledge base software that meets their needs. Each iteration results in deeper richness. The five E’s provide you with the set of features which you can organize and analyze data from the users. They provide track ability from the initial information gathering to setting requirements and evaluation. This allows you to understand the specific needs attached to each characteristic to evolve and grow. It also gives you the ability to confirm that the software is meeting, or exceeding, usability objectives. This goes farther than “ease of use” standards in a very practical way.