usability testing: easier is better cokie anderson associate professor oklahoma state university...
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Usability Testing: Easier is Better
Oklahoma State University
“Traditional” Usability Testing Long, Complicated, Expensive Process
Designing tests Recruiting “representative” participants Setting up facility for tests Convening focus groups Analyzing responses Amending website Writing reports Do it all over again
Drawbacks to this approach
Difficult to design and implement Books on subject not user-friendly May require professional assistance
Expensive Time consuming
Requires months to design, administer, analyze results, revise website and repeat test
Labor intensive Results may or may not be accurate
What if you don’t have time and $$$? Use the “common sense” approach:
Don’t Make Me Think (2nd ed.) by Steve Krug Berkeley: New Riders Press (2006) Author is respected usability consultant with
over 20 years experience The book is very usable (a good sign the
person knows what he is talking about) Short, easy to read, well designed Lays out the facts and myths of usability
The OSU Electronic Publishing Center’s experience The EPC is publishing the online version of
the NEH-funded Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.
Usability testing one of the requirements of the grant.
First attempt at testing, we tried the traditional approach. Hard to manage, time consuming, difficult Results not helpful; no redesign resulted
First usability testing attempt Recruited subjects from Library’s
Bibliographic Instruction courses Gave participants tasks—entries to find via
searches and browsing Designed feedback forms, where subjects
were asked to rank how easy it was to find information on the site
Timed subjects while they were completing tasks, interviewed them after test
First usability testing results
Most feedback was “middle of the road” No one added comments on the form; in interviews
they mostly commented on lack of images/ bells & whistles
We spent three months on testing and obtained no helpful results
Problems with the test: Our inexperience likely resulted in bad design Only limited entries completed, so only limited tasks
could be assigned Used “convenience sample”
Usability Test Take 2: The Common Sense Approach Using the recommendations in Don’t Make
Me Think, we selected a few people we knew well and could trust to tell us the truth, however brutal.
We sat down with these people while they explored the website, encouraging them to think out loud as they went.
The testers’ observations and complaints led to a total overhaul of the site design.
Usability testing on 10p a day
(To paraphrase Steve Krug)
Grab 3 or 4 “reasonably patient” people who use the Web. Offer them a “reasonable incentive” to participate, i.e. small stipend.
Sit them down in front of a computer in any office or conference room.
Show them the website and ask what they see. (Krug gives a sample script).
Video record the session if possible for viewing by design team. Only one person other than the subject should be present during testing.
Test early and often.
Encyclopedia site before 2nd usability test(As it was before AND after 1st usability test)
Encyclopedia site after 2nd usability test
Encyclopedia browse page
Krug’s Usability Principles
1. Don’t make the user think! 2. Make the site as self-evident as possible,
because: People don’t read; they scan. People don’t choose the best option; they
take the first acceptable option (satisfice). People don’t (won’t) try to figure out how a
site works; they’ll just muddle through.
3. Follow conventions. Make it as mindless as possible.
Krug’s “things that must die” Needless words
Introductions, welcomes, project histories, and other “happy talk”
Instructions No one is going to read them—they’re just
going to muddle through. Instead, find a way to make it obvious what needs to be done
Focus groups Not the actual people—the concept.
Focus group ≠ Usability test
It’s not rocket surgery™— Steve Krug’s corporate
Usability testing does not have to be complex to be effective.
It’s better to do frequent, “10p a day” usability testing rather than to avoid usability testing because you’re concerned about the time, expense, and difficulty.
Easier can be better.
Available from http://www.amazon.co.uk for £22.49http://www.amazon.comfor $21.58
Associate Professor & Librarian
Director, Electronic Publishing Center
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, Oklahoma USA