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I am about to ask for help on how to categorise usability/ux problems but after some googling I have realised that there is no standard definition of usability/ux problem. (Defining the Usability Problem, The definition of “usability problem” is elusive, Is That A Usability Problem Or A Feature?).

Is there an widely accepted definition I have missed?

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3 Answers

There aren't many definitions of usability problem in the literature. The most reasonable I could find was by Lavery, Cockton & Atkinson (1997):

A usability problem is an aspect of the system and/ or a demand on the user which makes it unpleasant, inefficient, onerous or impossible for the user to achieve their goals in typical usage situations.

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One way of looking at it is to say "Is this going to drive users nuts ? Yes / No"

Problems tend to fall between 'high level' issues ( eg basic faults with say the IA or workflow) through to detailed issues (bad wording of labels / buttons that don't look like buttons etc).

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I would not agree that ux is so binary. –  MikeNereson Feb 14 '12 at 4:48
    
That's just the first question though... Question 2 is 'How bad is this ?" You can't really do the second questions until you're on the analysis phase - as you can get issues which look bad initially and then you find that users can learn a workaround. –  PhillipW Feb 14 '12 at 9:08
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http://www.usabilitynet.org/tools/r_international.htm provides some of the standards around user experience and usability. Hope this helps!

Addendum: http://www.userfocus.co.uk/articles/iso-13407-is-dead.html talks about the recent work defining a standard for user centred design; this may help.

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I assume one can take a definition of usability and by negating it define the usability problem. PS: What a horrible website :D. –  daniel.sedlacek Feb 6 '12 at 12:28
    
Could you post an excerpt or summary from your link? –  Matt Rockwell Feb 6 '12 at 12:29
    
Well, from ISO 9241-11: Guidance on Usability (1998):"Usability: the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.". So the crux of the matter is in specifying what you want to achieve and by whom :) –  Peter Feb 6 '12 at 12:31
    
UsabilityNet's quite an interesting historical artifact - as it reflects how things were back in 2003. usabilitynet.org/about/aboutusa.htm –  PhillipW Feb 6 '12 at 22:15
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