Usability for all budgets


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Slides used for October 2010 presentation at CPMN

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Usability for all budgets

  2. 2. What is Usability? Usability is the ease with which a user interacts with software * As relates to what I’m discussing today
  3. 3. Why Does Usability Matter? • By designing something that is intuitive to use, the user doesn’t need to contact support or read the manual Designing for the user • Changes to user interfaces late in the development cycle adds risk to schedule slippage and costs more money in engineering and QA time Preventing costly changes • Most users don’t like using software unless it is on an Apple product. Easy, fun software creates an emotional connection that is stronger than anything you can create with good marketing and a lot of features Making products fun to use
  4. 4. When To Test For Usability Sign off on Market Requirements Specify Functionality Create UI Prototypes Usability TestingBegin Coding Beta Test Release Product Development
  5. 5. We’ve No Time For Usability Tests  Usability testing can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months in preparation, execution and review  Performing usability tests early in the development cycle will ensure that the UI design is right the first time. Changes late in the product cycle require massive upheaval to the code, introducing bugs and risking inconsistency in the user interface layer  Some might say that you don’t have time to not do usability testing
  6. 6. Methods of Ensuring Good HCI  Engineer in a bubble  Pro: Fast GUI Design  Con: Engineer has little idea how the customer uses the product  Guess  Pro: Fast GUI Design  Con: Can go terribly wrong  Formal Usage Studies  Pro: Controlled environment  Con: Expensive  One-on-one Usage Studies  Pro: Users are accessible  Con: Can be difficult to schedule visits via the Sales team
  7. 7. Isn’t Usability Testing Expensive?  The way companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple do it?  Two-way mirror for observation by engineers, Product Managers and QA staff  Dedicated Test Lab  Mouse/keystroke recording  Video Camera  Lasers to track eye movements (lasers are cool!)  But you can get great results from testing on a budget, too  Sit next to tester  Manually take down observations  Use standard digital camera for recording > £10,000 < £2,000
  8. 8. Where To Start 1. Choose core functionality to test 2. Create list of simple tasks for user to follow and questionnaire Open a file, edit file, insert image, export, print, save 3. Schedule a week of developer’s time to mock-up interactive prototypes in Flash or UI Layer (might require bribery) Does not need to be functional, simply emulate specified functionality 4. Recruit typical users to participate Newsgroups, personal network, former colleagues 5. Set up computer, camera on tripod in corner, one printed version of tasks /questionnaire for each tester
  9. 9. Reviewing The Results Usability testing is only as good as the information you obtain from it HCI Designer Is the interface easy to use? Developers Do the menu items and buttons need to be moved or renamed? Product Manager Did the users understand the product? Are we on the right track? Quality Assurance How much user interface testing will be required? Support Where will we see a big support burden for ‘How-to’ questions?
  10. 10. Impact of Improved HCI  To Engineering  No more designing in a bubble  More confidence in their work  To Support  Happier callers  Fewer GUI calls  To Sales  Able to demonstrate new features in a personalized demo to potential customers  To the user  Feel that they are being heard  Find it easier to get their work done after seeing new features
  11. 11. Remember…  You do not know how customers will interact with your product  Your developers are most likely not HCI experts and shouldn’t be expected to design the UI  Only by viewing actual target users will you and your team know if you’re on the right track
  12. 12. The Actual Tests 1. Usability tester arrives, sits at computer 2. Sit down with them and explain what you wish them to do 3. The user should go through the tasks on their own, with no instruction 4. They should speak aloud as they progress and where they confused 5. After completing the tasks, have the user fill in a questionnaire about their experience with the software
  13. 13. Further Reading  Advancements in Human/Computer Interaction by Jakob Nielsen   The Usability Engineering Lifecycle by Deborah Mayhew  Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug  Inside Google’s Usability Labs (article)   And the font of all knowledge, Wikipedia   Tools  Morae  Software for recording and tracking mouse movements  Krut  Free software on SourceForge for screen and audio capture