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Summative Evaluation

Usability evaluation of a complete or near-complete design under realistic conditions that can be used to determine if the design meets specific measurable performance and/or satisfaction goals, or to establish a usability benchmark or to make comparisons.<

This approach is in contrast to a formative evaluation< which is used to find and eliminate problems during the design and development process, rather than judge a completed product against specific goals.

Both summative and formative refer to the purpose of the evaluation.

Related Links

Web Resources

Sauro, J. (2010) Are the Terms Formative and Summative Helpful or Harmful?<

Hartson, H.R., Andre, T.S., Williges, R.C. (2003) Criteria For Evaluating Usability Evaluation Methods<. International Journal of HCI, 5(1), 145-181.

Formal Publications

Scriven, M. (1967). The methodology of evaluation. In R. W. Tyler, R. M. Gagne, & M. Scriven (Eds.), Perspectives of curriculum evaluation, 39-83. Chicago, IL: Rand McNally.

Published Studies

Carlson, Jennifer Lee; Braun,Kelly; Kantner, Laurie. When Product Teams Observe Field Research Sessions: Benefits and Lessons Learned. UPA 2009 Conference.


Lifecycle: Evaluation
Sources and contributors: 
Nigel Bevan, Ben Werner, Chauncey Wilson
© 2010 Usability Professionals Association