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Feature Inspection 

What is it?

Feature inspections analyze only the feature set of a product, usually given end user scenarios for the end result to be obtained from the use of the product. For example, a common user scenario for the use of a word processor is to produce a letter. The features that would be used include entering text, formatting text, spell-checking, saving the text to a file, and printing the letter. Each set of features used to produce the required output (a letter) is analyzed for its availability, understandability, and general usefulness.

How do I do it?

List the features in the product in the sequences they would be used to perform various tasks. Look at the accessibility of each feature in the context of the tasks. Can the user get to each feature without much trouble? Are the features well named and easily recognized?

One time-tested way to perform feature inspection is to have the documentation staff attempt to document each user scenario as procedures. Features that are hard to describe in the documentation are probably hard to find for the user in the first place.

When should I use this technique?

This technique is best used in the middle stages of development. At this point, the functions of the product--what the product is to be used for--are known. The features users will use to produce their desired output are known. The question that remains is how hard is it to use those features?

Who can tell me more?

Click on any of the following links for more information:

Bell, Univ. of Colorado

Nielsen, Jakob, and Mack, R. eds, Usability Inspection Methods, 1994, John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.
ISBN 0-471-01877-5 (hardcover) 

All content copyright © 1996 - 2019 James Hom