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Top Ten Things You Should Know About the CIF


For product suppliers:

  • Do: Explain the CIF to your development team. Make sure they understand how this is different from a formative evaluation and why the report looks like it does.
  • Do: Use the CIF for the benchmark studies of your product. The CIF is designed for these types of summative studies.
  • Do: Encourage your customers to do their own testing of your product, using their specific user populations and tasks.
  • Do: Consider hiring an external firm to conduct your product's benchmark study. Doing so adds credibility to the results with your customers.
  • Do: To avoid having two reports for internal vs. external audiences, isolate sections of the report that are for internal use only vs. those for product consumers.
  • Do: Make the connection between the measures in the CIF and success for the business case of the product, both for suppliers and customers.
  • Do: Get the necessary management /legal approvals to release the CIF to customers.
  • Don't: Use the CIF for iterative usability studies. The CIF is not designed for studies whose aim is to find and fix problems with a product feature.
  • Don't: Rely on a single study of your product using the CIF at the end of the product development cycle. Because the CIF is not designed to find problems during development, you need to do iterative usability studies throughout the product's creation to find and fix problems.

For product consumers:

  • Do: Engage in conversations with your product suppliers early in their development processes about your needs. The CIF-R is designed to help with this conversation.
  • Do: Your own testing of products provided by suppliers. Testing with your own specific user populations and tasks will provide the most meaningful data for your purchase decisions.
  • Do: Ask Suppliers for CIF-Compliant usability test reports. Requests should be included within requests for information and/or requests for proposals.
  • Do: Have supplier test reports analyzed by internal usability engineers.
  • Do:  Give the usability data from supplier or internal tests equal importance to functionality, reliability and other evaluation criteria.

For both:

  • Do: Review the type of data you need for the CIF report format before writing your test plan. That way you can ensure you measure the right things.
  • Don't: Use the CIF on a product that is not "release ready". Unstable or buggy applications can distort task completion time and task completion rates. 


Created May 20, 2016, Updated November 15, 2019