Usability Problems

To determine whether a software system has usability problems, we must start with understanding:

 “What it is usability?”

According to:


Usability is derived from the word “useable” which means; adjective. 1. available or convenient for use.  2. capable of being used.

ISO 9241.

The effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which specified users achieve specified goals in particular environments.

  • Effectiveness. the accuracy and completeness with which specified users can achieve specified goals in particular environments.
  • Efficiency. the resources expended in relation to the accuracy and completeness of goals achieved.
  • Satisfaction. the comfort and acceptability of the work system to its users and other people affected by its use.

At first view, seems to be easy to determine whether or not something is usable. But for purposes of this article, we use the definition of ISO 9241.

Now with the definition of ISO 9241, we have three parameters that could help us determine or measure whether a software system has usability problems.

We could relate the three parameters with the factors:

  • Effectiveness with a user could achieve a specific task.
  • Efficiency with the time that a user employ in a specific task.
  • Satisfaction with the subjetive satisfaction of a user.

For reasons learning, we will take this program Asana for testing its usability. Let’s start.

Checking the Asana’s objetive and its target users

Objetive. Task and Project Management. Achieve great results with tasks, projects, conversations and dashboards, Asana enables teams to move work from start to finish.

Target users. They don’t specify the target users.

Experimental Fase with Asana


In the past, I have experienced problems in the use of “Asana” software but do not want to base the following article only from a point of view, so I prepared an experiment involving people, one with knowledge of project management and other inexperienced in this field, both know how to use technology.


  • A person with knowledge of Management Project. Profesional of Computer Science
  • A person without knowledge of Management Project. Student of Ambiental Science.

Define Instructions/Tasks to measure “Effectiveness” and “Efficiency”.

  • Instruction 1. Create a project called “Test”.
  • Instruction 2. Create members in the “Test” project. “Member 1” and “Member 2”.
  • Instruction 3. Create 4 tasks with a start and end date, then assign it to members  in the “Test” project.
  • Instruction 4. Create 2 tasks assigned to yourself in the “Test” project.
  • Instruction 5. See the project tasks.
  • Instruction 6. See your project tasks assignment.
  • Instruction 7. Delete a task.
  • Instruction 8. Delete a project.

Obs. Asana has other features that will not be tested in the following article, only been taken into account basic functionality.

Questions to measure “Satisfaction”.

  1. In general, it was easy complete the instructions/tasks assigned?
    • Possible answers: 1. No 2.Rather not 3.Neutral 4.Rather yes 5.Yes
  2. Considered difficult to use the software Asana?
    • Possible answers: 1. No 2.Rather not 3.Neutral 4.Rather yes 5.Yes
  3. Are you confortable using Asana software?
    • Possible answers: 1. No (Go to question 4.)  2.Yes (Go to question 5.)
  4. (Only if you answer No )Do you think if you receive a training of Asana, could you work much better with the software?
    • Possible answers: 1. No 2.Rather not 3.Neutral 4.Rather yes 5.Yes
  5. How you score to Asana in a scale of 1 to 10 (1. Minimun and 10 Maximun)?
    • Possible answers: Fill the blank.


Both participants perform tasks separately and have not been influenced in their responses.

Results of Experimental Fase

  • Data for calculation of Effectiveness and Efficiency

Capture_6 Capture_7


Looking only the data, problems in both participants are displayed in the task #3 and #4 corresponding to:

Instruction 3. Create 4 tasks with a start and end date, then assign it to members  in the “Test” project.

Instruction 4. Create 2 tasks assigned to yourself in the “Test” project.

Calculation of Effectiveness and Efficiency

  • Effectiveness. As shown in the graph, there are two tasks were not completed by the participant without experience in project management.

Result of Effectiveness


  • Efficiency. The efficiency of the instructions/tasks #3 and #4 have a lower percentage to other instructions/tasks which shows the difficulty to complete them by the participants.

Time based Efficiency


  • Survey of Satisfaction. The result of the survey shows the results of efficiency and effectiveness, participants are not completely satisfied with the software and are consistent with previous training could improve the understanding of the software.

Satisfaction Survey


The Asana software has a concept called “Workspace”, which tends to confuse users that experimenting with it for the first time, this concept generates the creation of tasks within the “workspace” user and not within a given project. On the other hand, Asana has several features that hide the most basic to users and concepts associated which without prior training are difficult to understand.

As a result, the experiment to measure usability “Asana” software shows that indeed the functionality of creating a task and ownership of assigning members to projects find it difficult to be implemented efficiently and effectively, and features such as, delete a task are not found quickly; causing user dissatisfaction. I should add that the difficulties presented by participants were the same as I experienced using the software “Asana” in the past.

In conclusion software “Asana” is a tool that has many features for project management by previous training could be exploited to the maximum but it has difficulties to be used intuitively by people with or without knowledge in the area of ​​project management .



Special thanks to those who contributed to this article: Ing. Adonis Figueroa and Paul Zuñiga



Asana – – –

Nielsen Norman Group –

MeasuringU – –

File Attached


  1. La interpretación del cuestionario de satisfacción puede no ser muy un poco ambigua por solo contar con dos participantes. Te recomiendo también mirar System Usability Scale (SUS)

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