Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application (JITTA)


Usability is an important quality characteristic of software products and systems. Different approaches for introducing usability activities into SW development have not yet been evaluated with respect to open source software (OSS). This paper tests the introduction of usability activities through four empirical case studies in the OSS development context. Case studies were carried out using four OSS projects that were not commercially supported. Empirical analysis suggests that usability specialists should become members of the OSS community, but, at the same time, should keep an objective view. The usability activities had substantially more impact when specialists introduced and carried them out as fellow members of the OSS community than as usability consultants from outside the community. The importance of management commitment for usability activities is discussed in the OSS context. The challenge of adapting usability and OSS development philosophies together should be researched further.