Usability

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Usability

  1. 1. Usability Research Methods
  2. 2. Participatory Design <ul><li>Users involved in all stages of the process. </li></ul><ul><li>Often entails ethnographic observations and interviewing. </li></ul><ul><li>Might involve “participant observation.” </li></ul><ul><li>Focuses on giving users the ability to shape technologies to fit their needs. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Questions of Usability Research <ul><li>What are the users’ goals? What motivates them? </li></ul><ul><li>How do users tend to learn about and troubleshoot problems with new technologies? </li></ul><ul><li>What tasks do users need to perform? For what purpose are these tasks performed? </li></ul><ul><li>What mental models do users have for understanding the technology in question? </li></ul><ul><li>What vocabularies do users have for understanding the technology in question? </li></ul>
  4. 4. Observation <ul><li>Record as much data as possible (just record, don’t evaluate significance at first) </li></ul><ul><li>Use multiple technologies for recording data (video screen capture, audio, notetaking) </li></ul><ul><li>Try participating in the user’s daily work activities. </li></ul><ul><li>Record the time it takes to complete tasks. </li></ul><ul><li>Recognize that users can’t always vocalize their needs and problems. (Observation is key) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Observation <ul><li>Record everything. Look and look again. </li></ul><ul><li>Then analyze data and “code” for key themes. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Interviewing <ul><li>Ask questions designed to get users to tell you stories (avoid yes or no). </li></ul><ul><li>Record data using audio or really specific notetaking. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask questions designed to elicit the user’s mental models and vocabularies related to the topic. </li></ul><ul><li>Work to find a diverse group of interviewees. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Task-Based Testing <ul><li>Ask the user to complete a task and then watch them as they do (often a task that involves locating information). </li></ul><ul><li>Make the task specific and “real world.” </li></ul><ul><li>Consider asking users to “think aloud” while they work. </li></ul><ul><li>Pay close attention to how users navigate through the text/site. </li></ul><ul><li>Pay close attention to when and where the users get stuck or look in the “wrong” place. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Users do the darndest things… <ul><li>Recognize that users will rarely peruse your documentation in the way you want them to. </li></ul><ul><li>Your goal is to make documentation and interfaces simple enough that users can recover from the many errors they are likely to make. </li></ul><ul><li>Usability testing is a key way to understand and accommodate the diverse learning orientations, mental models, and vocabularies of your users. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Usability testing is not enough <ul><li>Users often don’t want to be critical or don’t know how. </li></ul><ul><li>Users often have come to expect poor quality documentation and interface design. </li></ul><ul><li>All users are different. </li></ul><ul><li>So, you need to become your own usability </li></ul><ul><li>tester (and to find colleagues who can play that </li></ul><ul><li>role for you). </li></ul>
  10. 10. Let’s try it… <ul><li>Let’s develop and implement a task-based test of </li></ul><ul><li>The Miami University website. </li></ul>

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