HCI has always focused on designing useful and usable interactive systems, but usability has dominated the field while research on usefulness has been largely absent. With user experience (UX) emerging as a dominant paradigm, it is necessary to consider the meaning of usefulness for modern computing contexts. This paper describes the results of an exploratory study of usefulness and its relation to contextual and experiential factors. The results show that a system’s usefulness is shaped by the context in which it is used, usability is closely linked to usefulness, usefulness may have both pragmatic and hedonic attributes, and usefulness is critical in defining users’ overall evaluation of a system (i.e., its goodness). We conclude by discussing the implications of this research and describing plans for extending our understanding of usefulness in other settings.
Presented at the 2014 ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS 2014).
Citation: MacDonald, C. M., & Atwood, M. E. (2014). What Does it Mean for a System to be Useful? An Exploratory Study of Usefulness. In Proceedings of the 2014 Conference on Designing interactive systems (DIS ’14). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 885-894. [PDF (Pre-Print) / ACM DL]