Why Do User Research And Usability TestingPresentation Transcript
Why Do User Research and Usability Testing? Copyright Energy Systems Lab, 2008
The answer to the question is simple: to remove stumbling blocks from the user’s path through the application.
This may not seem that important, but it is. Let’s see why…
One way or another, stumbling blocks represent a failure to achieve maximum capital gains.
This is true whether you are a private sector product focused company or a government corporation that is grant funded.
The applications you build are part of your brand.
You wouldn’t ignore an ugly font or icon on a website, so why gloss over a usability defect?
Building a bad brand discourages people from doing business with you in the future.
This can be in the form of a grant disbursement or a person purchasing shrink-wrapped software at Best Buy.
Bad Forms Produce Bad Results
Let us all learn from the 300 million dollar button example. (Wroblewski, p.16-18)
As a Developer, Why Should I Care About Usability?
Getting it right early, means moving on faster.
Satisfaction of helping people achieve their goals through your interface.
Improving your reputation. Looking out for your future.
Care for your craft.
"Why Can't We Do This All In-House?"
"Can't you just take care of all this usability stuff by following some simple rules?"
Yes and No. If developers could make usable apps from the confines of their cube, they would.
Usability is a measure of prevention, if done right, you are never going to see where it paid off (unless you are building a better mousetrap).
“ I think saving small fractions of a second by optimal button placement is probably a good illustration of the real but limited impact that traditional psychological theory can have if diligently applied.” (Carroll, p. 65)
"Why Can't We Do This All In-House?" (cont'd)
"Aren't you smart enough to figure out what the user needs on your own?"
“ Personal observation of one’s own system is one of the worst ways to assess usability." (Carroll, p.69)
Turn that question around. If you can't prognosticate that, what makes you think a developer can?
"I know exactly what the end users need, it's ..."
Ok, maybe you do maybe you don't. Let's not guess, lets find out for sure. That's where field studies and user interviews come in.
Factors Affecting Usability
Conceptual Model extended to the user (Norman, pp. 12-17)
Clarity of text anywhere and everywhere
Position and size of navigation elements
Organization of information
Performance as it relates to responsiveness
Naturalness of mapping from a control to what is effected by its use (Norman, pp. 23-27)
Where to Start: Conducting User Research
You should do some level of user research when the high level design of your application is underway.
“ Task analysis provides important clues to what the interface organization and conceptual design should be,” (Weinschenck, p. 26).
Yes it costs money to do user research. It costs even more money to go into litigation because nobody thought about the user first.
Who You Write it for Will Change What it Does
User Role Modeling is important, and should be done right from the start.
Beware the "Too Many Masters" syndrome.
If Accounting wants it for one thing, and Marketing wants it for something else, you may never get a converging set of requirements.
Where to Start: Usability Testing
Start with what is reasonable for your situation.
Hiring a usablity professional can be costly and therefore encourages waiting until the software is "done." (Krug, p. 131)
Waiting to consider usability till late in development lengthens the user feedback loop, which can be very costly.
Where to Start: Usability Testing (cont'd)
Incorporate user feedback into your design A.S.A.P.
There are several methodologies for doing this:
Iterative & Incremental development and deployment
Where to Start: Usability Testing(cont’d)
Krug suggests that usability testing can be a home grown effort. (Krug, p. 137)
Some user testing is better than none at all.
Do what your wallet can afford.
Representative end users are overrated. (Krug, p. 135)
3-4 user testers at each round of user testing is good enough.(Krug, p. 138)
Test early and often.
How you define “early” and “often” may be influenced by several factors
One size does not fit all.
You are going to have to figure out how to do usability testing and user research in your environment.
What works for one company may not work for another.
You may be able to get useful advice on how to go about doing usability testing from someone in a similar situation working on a similar project that is already doing user testing
Time and budget will affect how you do usability testing
but remember, it is better to user test once than never at all.
Carroll, J. M. (Ed.). (1991). Designing interaction: Psychology at the human-computer interface. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Krug, S. (2006). Don't Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Second Edition. Berkley, CA: New Riders.
Norman, D. (1990). The Design of Everyday Things. New York: Doubleday.
Weinschenk, S., Jamar, P., & Yeo, S.C. (1997). GUI design essentials. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Wroblewski, L. (2008). Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks. Brooklyn, New York: Rosenfeld Media.