Reactome: Usability testing - is it useful?

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My colleagues from the EBI, Steve Jupe and Bijay Jassal, wanted to carry out usability testing for the Reactome website. …

My colleagues from the EBI, Steve Jupe and Bijay Jassal, wanted to carry out usability testing for the Reactome website.

I helped them with how to carry out straightforward, discount testing, and they took from there. It was a success, I am very happy to say!

I didn't work on this project directly, so I consider it a nice bit of undercover UX.

More in: Design , Technology
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  • 1. Reactome usability testing :was it useful?Steve Jupe
  • 2. Why do usability testing? Learn from user behaviour Test assumptions to inform the design process Involve users in design Identify unnecessary features and spot issues Fix problems early (when it’s easy) Objective evidence, not opinions Reassure stakeholders Save a lot of work later on....
  • 3. Who? Identify the right users to test  Who are the intended audience for the features you want to test?  Do you have access to a sample set?
  • 4. Recruiting We need volunteers to test our website – biologists who occasionally use Reactome are ideal. Testing involves working through typical usage scenarios, e.g. ‘Is Fyn in Reactome, and if so in what pathways?’. Duration ~1 hour. All participants receive a gift! Purpose is to record when the user has difficulties with the task – not a test of the user! Results will guide our next design /improvements phase. Contact:
  • 5. Test scenarios Write scenarios and tests  Guide (not show) the volunteer to key views or functions  Open-ended tasks, no answers provided  You want to identify when the user finds it difficult to complete the task – and how you could address this
  • 6. Resources required A quiet place with some privacy  Best if a familiar setting for the user  Privacy to avoid disturbance and relax test subject PC with software or web access to site  Optional: webcam, microphone, keylogger software such as Silverback (Mac) or BB FlashBack (free!) Observer with notepad  To note issues as they arise  Ideally observer and tester  Tester interacts with test subject  Observer can focus entirely on observing, may ask follow-up questions
  • 7. The testing process Use a Tester and an Observer Explain the testing process – use a script if you need to Explain that the site, not the user, is being tested User background – biologist or programmer? Helps to relax the volunteer Ask volunteer to give a running commentary Explain scenarios. Start tasks by reading them out, give a reference paper copy. End testing when time runs out, or tests becomes frustrating
  • 8. During the test... Remind the test subject to keep up the running commentary Guide the test subject only when needed - don’t train Try not to directly answer questions, guide. Ask questions that draw out answers:  What are you thinking now?  Is that what you expected to happen/see? If there is an issue, note it but also investigate, ask test subject as above, try to find out why there is an issue, what would avoid it/improve it.
  • 9. ..What do the objects on the diagram mean?
  • 10. Drawing Conclusions Don’t leap to conclusions – 5 or 6 people can be enough to identify common issues, 3 is not. Look for common themes in your observations... Video is for deeper analysis but often the top problems become obvious...we didn’t use our videos
  • 11. More info EBI Usability experts (Jenny Cham, Francis Rowland, Sangya Pundir) ability_resources.php Lots of online books & videos
  • 12. Acting on the results Reactome developers brought in to group issues by technology and difficulty  Usability identifies potential issues - there may be more than one solution  Resolution depends on difficulty/resources  Find and fix early! Project Prioritization Poker used to prioritize usability issues against other objectives (i.e. our wish-list)  Fun - but serves it’s purpose, ranking with scores  Reactome Management adjustments and sign-off Final ranking used to generate task list(s)
  • 13. Priority list
  • 14. Diagram Key
  • 15. Participating molecules
  • 16. Summary Usability testing has proven to be: Easy to set up and run Useful:  Identified unexpected issues (e.g. Zoom level)  Used to avoid guesswork on known issues and help rank developer activities Usability testing planned for:  Alternate pathway illustration styles  Redesigned layout for Homepage  Diagram key alternatives