Current usability evaluation methods are essentially holistic in nature. However, engineers that apply a component-based software engineering approach might also be interested in understanding the usability of individual parts of an interactive system. This paper examines the efficiency dimension of usability by describing a method, which engineers can use to test, empirically and objectively, the physical interaction effort to operate components in a single device. The method looks at low-level events, such as button clicks, and attributes the physical effort associated with these interaction events to individual components in the system. This forms the basis for engineers to prioritise their improvement effort. The paper discusses face validity, content validity, criterion validity, and construct validity of the method. The discussion is set within the context of four usability tests, in which 40 users participated to evaluate the efficiency of four different versions of a mobile phone. The results of the study show that the method can provide a valid estimation of the physical interaction event effort users made when interacting with a specific part of a device.