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

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