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What is the CIF?

The ANSI/INCITS-354 Common Industry Format (CIF) for Usability Test Reports is a standard method for reporting usability test findings. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved the CIF December 12, 2001 as the standard for reporting usability test results. The purpose of the CIF is to encourage incorporation of usability as an element in decision making for software procurement.

Audience

The CIF targets two audiences: usability professionals and stakeholders in an organization. The CIF is designed for usability professionals who generate reports to be used by stakeholders. Stakeholders can use the usability data to help make informed decisions concerning the release of software products or the procurement of such products.

Format

The format is primarily for reporting results of formal usability tests in which quantitative measurements were collected and is particularly appropriate for summative/comparative testing. The format includes the following main sections: Executive Summary, Introduction, Method, and Results. The Method and Results sections are particularly important and provide usability professionals with a good framework for the report. The Method section prescribes the inclusion of details concerning the participants and their profile, the details of the context of use employed in the test, technical aspects of the testing facility and apparatus, and finally all the study design aspects (such as variables and measurements). The Results section includes sub-sections for the presentation of performance data (e.g., times or error rates, etc.) and a sub-section for the presentation of satisfaction results.

Cautions

The CIF assumes that best practice is used in designing and conducting a usability test. The CIF does not tell you what to do; it tells you how to report on what you did. The CIF is designed for summative testing rather than formative testing.
Maintained by: Brian Stanton
Last modified: September 8, 2006
http://www.nist.gov/iusr