What Does a Usability Engineer Do?

A. Leverkuhn
A. Leverkuhn
Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

A usability engineer helps to develop computer applications, as well as similar products, with a view toward how these are eventually utilized by the end-user. As a specific part of the computer design world, the usability engineer provides detailed consultation and development for computer products to assure that they serve the needs of their target audience. In general, these professionals are software developers; in a specific usability engineer role, much of the focus is on elements of design that affect usability.

Since the work of usability engineers is often focused on the experience of the end-user, one thing that these individuals do often is to consult with customers. Usability engineers may use surveys or other tools to get a detailed knowledge of how users and customers view the company or products, what specific interfaces, protocols or amenities these customers want, or how errors in design could affect the outlook of these customers. Sometimes, these professionals act as effective liaisons between the customers and various key departments within the company, including analysts and engineers working on other aspects of software production.

In addition to comprehensive or “meta” issues with the utility of software, usability engineers may also focus on more technical parts of software production. For example, one of these individuals may do a lot of testing or quality assurance to figure out bugs in software. He or she may also evaluate performance standards that are extremely important to the overall development of the software product.

General development goals often make up a key part of the job for a usability engineer, but these kinds of engineers might also spend time evaluating the environment in which products will work best, or how they can be best taught to end-users. Training may be a major part of what these job roles involve, for example, where communicating environmental standards or other aspects of use to customers is important to the success of the company. Usability engineers may train on how to control dust, temperature or humidity for products, how to use any new versions or modifications of products, or how to license or obtain products. It’s not uncommon for usability engineers to be point people or consultants for some of the most mundane aspects of using tech products, such as necessary power supplies, calibrations, or operating systems.

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