Why Do User Research And Usability Testing


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Why Do User Research And Usability Testing

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