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Usability Testing

Usability testing ranges from observing how users react to color palettes to
 timing how long it takes someone to find a log out button. Sometimes testing is one-on-one, with a moderator asking an individual tester to go through the process of using a Web site–asking questions along the way about what they like and don’t like, what is easy and difficult, and how it could be improved. Other times it consists of 10 to 20 person focus groups that also work with a moderator to determine preferences of target audiences and look at big picture issues, such as color treatment and content needs

This is a typical test environment for studying a user interaction.

Some of usability testing Fundaes:

  • Why: Value of usability testing
    “A bad design can cost 40% of repeat traffic, half of potential sales” – CIO / Forrester
    “People will gladly waste a million dollars on their fancy design and not spend $4,000 to see if it works” – Nielsen
    Intranet: lost time = lost money
    Reduced calls to help line: do the math
  • Why: Cost of usability testing
    $0: do-it-yourself, no-budget, invest time
    $2k: low budget, do-it-yourself
    $20k: hire out usability testing, portable lab
    $100k: fancy lab with trimmings
    Compare with Fortune 1000s: spending $2 mil/year on redesigns
  • Why: Software Development Lifecycle
    Fit usability testing into your own way of doing things
    The sooner in the process, the better
    The more often you do it, the better
    Not a good idea: do testing just before a fixed release date
     This is user observation room
  • How: Plan
    Decide the Purpose and audience of site first.
    Then define Usability goals
    Detail out each task on every screen Tasks
    Decide Participants, scheduling, payment. Try to Cover different user categories
    ( Novice versus Expert)Involving representatives of the end users
    Choosing Experimenters
    ….See that the experimenter had No previous interaction with the users
    ….He should not have any personal opinions / indications for user performance
    ….No assistance to the users
    ….Exception previous user experiences
    ….Effect on subsequent tasks
    ….There should not be any confusion for the users
    ….Appoint Multiple observers
    ….Appoint one as official experimenter
    ….Provide instructions and interaction
    Keep task Material ready
    Check Setting for test computer and test application
    Formative / Summative evaluation
    …Expect to hear bad news
  • How: Do
    Introduction for participant, list of tasks
    Watch quietly
    Record behavior (take notes, tape)
    Interact with participant
    Debriefing, questionnaire, payment
  • Techniques: Full Usability Labs
    Build rooms just for this purpose
    Adjoining, sound-proofed rooms
    Video cameras, scan converters, two-way mirrors, microphones, etc
    Cost: $80-120k
    Do it all of the time to recoup investment

    focus groupA Focus group evaluation

  • Some things to remember:
    Purpose of test… “Evaluation of software and not a user”
    Reminder that system is confidential
    Freedom of expression, think aloud
    Abandon the task at any moment
    Explanation of audio and video recording
    Invitation to ask questions and seek clarification
    Keeping user names and findings confidential
    Usage of test results for improvement of the system
    Sign consent form for sharing video tapes
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