Basics in usability, process and methodologies - Sivaprasath Selvaraj

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Basics in usability, process and methodologies - Sivaprasath Selvaraj

  1. 1. Usability 1 of 59
  2. 2. User-Centered Design (UCD)..............................................................................................6 What is UCD?...............................................................................................................................................6 Components of UCD....................................................................................................................................6 Design Stages:.............................................................................................................................................7What is Usability?................................................................................................................7 What makes a website or piece of software usable?...................................................................................7 Why is Usability Important?..........................................................................................................................8 How Do You Achieve a High Level of Usability?..........................................................................................8 Where is Usability Applied?.........................................................................................................................8Methods................................................................................................................................8Methods - Methods Section Overview................................................................................9Cognitive Walkthrough ......................................................................................................9 What is it?.....................................................................................................................................................9 How do I do it?.............................................................................................................................................9 When should I use this technique?..............................................................................................................9GOMS................................................................................................................................10 GOMS Models: An Approach to Rapid Usability Evaluation......................................................................10Usability Inspection...........................................................................................................11Formal Usability Inspections ...........................................................................................11 What is it?...................................................................................................................................................11 How do I do it?...........................................................................................................................................11 When should I use this technique?............................................................................................................12Planning.............................................................................................................................12 Why Are You Developing a Web Site?......................................................................................................12 Who Should Come to Your Site?...............................................................................................................12 Decide on your target audiences...............................................................................................................13 When and Why Will They Come?..............................................................................................................13Analyze context of use & Content Quality........................................................................13 Benefits......................................................................................................................................................13 Method - Planning......................................................................................................................................13 This may include: ......................................................................................................................................13 Before the meeting.....................................................................................................................................14 At the meeting............................................................................................................................................14 After the meeting........................................................................................................................................14 Relevance..................................................................................................................................................14 Overall checklist.........................................................................................................................................14 How to improve relevance..........................................................................................................................14 Overall checklist.........................................................................................................................................14 When to use animation .............................................................................................................................14 How to improve content depth and breadth...............................................................................................15 Overall checklist.........................................................................................................................................15 How to improve site timeliness...................................................................................................................15 Goals..........................................................................................................................................................15 Overall checklist.........................................................................................................................................15 How to help people achieve their information goals...................................................................................15 Structure.....................................................................................................................................................16 Overall checklist.........................................................................................................................................16COMPETITOR ANALYSIS.............................................................................................16 Marketing Plan Components: Competitor & Issues Analysis ....................................................................16 Benefits of Preparing a Competitor and Issues Analysis ..........................................................................17 COMPETITOR ANALYSIS ........................................................................................................................17Requirement - Early usability tests....................................................................................17 Characteristics...........................................................................................................................................17 Early usability tests....................................................................................................................................17Requirement - User Surveys..............................................................................................18 Surveying user opinions of ease of use ....................................................................................................18 Different Surveys........................................................................................................................................18 Usability 2 of 59
  3. 3. Requirement - Contextual Inquiry.....................................................................................18 Characteristics...........................................................................................................................................18 Contextual Inquiry, What is it?...................................................................................................................19 How do I do it?...........................................................................................................................................19 When should I use this technique?............................................................................................................20Requirement - User Observation.......................................................................................20 Summary....................................................................................................................................................20 Benefits......................................................................................................................................................20 Planning ...................................................................................................................................................................20 Running......................................................................................................................................................21 Reporting....................................................................................................................................................21 Guidelines for User Observation................................................................................................................21Requirement - 10 STEPS - User Observation....................................................................22Requirement - Online Surveys...........................................................................................24 Characteristics...........................................................................................................................................24 Some hints for effective online surveys: ....................................................................................................24Requirement - Focus Groups.............................................................................................25 Focus groups ............................................................................................................................................25 Focus groups ............................................................................................................................................25 What is a focus group? .............................................................................................................................25 What do you get from a focus group? .......................................................................................................25 What do you not get from a typical focus group?.......................................................................................25 This document contains the following sections: ........................................................................................26 Preparing for Session.................................................................................................................................26 Developing Questions ...............................................................................................................................26 Planning the Session ................................................................................................................................26 Facilitating the Session..............................................................................................................................26 Immediately After Session.........................................................................................................................27Requirement – Individual Interviews.................................................................................27 Individual interviews ..................................................................................................................................27 Individual interviews ..................................................................................................................................27 What do we mean by individual interviews?..............................................................................................27 Why conduct individual interviews?...........................................................................................................27 When should you conduct individual interviews?.......................................................................................28 Individual interviews and focus groups: Whats the difference?.................................................................28 What makes an interview successful?.......................................................................................................28 Steps in Conducting Interviews .................................................................................................................28Requirement – Brainstorming............................................................................................29 What is Brainstorming? .............................................................................................................................29 Benefits......................................................................................................................................................29 Planning.....................................................................................................................................................29 Nurturant phase.........................................................................................................................................29 Step by Step ..............................................................................................................................................30 The Process Overview ..............................................................................................................................30Requirement – Evaluating Existing Systems.....................................................................33 Benefits .....................................................................................................................................................33 Method – Planning.....................................................................................................................................33 Before the meeting ....................................................................................................................................33 At the meeting............................................................................................................................................33 After the meeting........................................................................................................................................33 Output........................................................................................................................................................33Requirement – Card Sorting..............................................................................................33 Card sorting –Charastrics..........................................................................................................................33 Card sorting ...............................................................................................................................................34 What is card sorting? ................................................................................................................................34 What happens in a card sorting session?..................................................................................................34 Why use index cards with one topic per card?...........................................................................................34 How Does Card Sorting Work?..................................................................................................................34 Usability 3 of 59
  4. 4. Getting the cards ready .............................................................................................................................34 Arranging for card sorting sessions ...........................................................................................................34 Conducting a card-sorting session ............................................................................................................35 Analyzing data ...........................................................................................................................................35Requirement – Scenarios of use.........................................................................................35 Scenarios of use (Use cases) Summary ...................................................................................................35 Benefits .....................................................................................................................................................35 Method ......................................................................................................................................................35 Practical guidelines ...................................................................................................................................36 More information .......................................................................................................................................36 Next steps .................................................................................................................................................36 Requirements meeting Summary ..............................................................................................................36 Benefits .....................................................................................................................................................36 Method 1. Quality in use requirements .....................................................................................................36 2. Detailed usability requirements .............................................................................................................37Requirement – Task Analysis............................................................................................37 Summary....................................................................................................................................................37 Benefits .....................................................................................................................................................38 Method - Task decomposition....................................................................................................................38Requirement – Requirements Meeting..............................................................................38 Summary ...................................................................................................................................................38 Benefits......................................................................................................................................................38 Method.......................................................................................................................................................38 Arrange a workshop attended by:..............................................................................................................38 For each chosen task and user type estimate:..........................................................................................39Prototype - Design Guidelines...........................................................................................39 Summary....................................................................................................................................................39 Benefits......................................................................................................................................................39 Contents.....................................................................................................................................................39 Graphic Design .........................................................................................................................................39 Navigation .................................................................................................................................................40 Functions....................................................................................................................................................40Prototype - Paper Prototyping............................................................................................40 Introductory articles ...................................................................................................................................40 Purpose .....................................................................................................................................................41 Benefits......................................................................................................................................................41 Four stages of paper prototyping may be required:...................................................................................41 Concept design..........................................................................................................................................41 Interaction design ......................................................................................................................................41 Screen design ...........................................................................................................................................41 Screen testing ...........................................................................................................................................41 How Good Does Your Web Site Look on Paper?......................................................................................42 Navigation/Flow..........................................................................................................................................42 Content.......................................................................................................................................................42 Layout........................................................................................................................................................42 Functionality/Interactivity............................................................................................................................42 Summary description.................................................................................................................................42 Typical Application Areas...........................................................................................................................42 Benefits......................................................................................................................................................43 Limitations..................................................................................................................................................43 Cost of use.................................................................................................................................................43 Detailed description of method...................................................................................................................43 Sketching...................................................................................................................................................44 User testing................................................................................................................................................44Prototype - Heuristic Evaluation........................................................................................45 What is Heuristic Evaluation?....................................................................................................................45 How can I Use Heuristic Evaluation on my Site?.......................................................................................45 Choose your Evaluators.............................................................................................................................45 Heuristic Evaluation - a Step By Step Guide..............................................................................................46Prototype - Parallel Design................................................................................................48 Usability 4 of 59
  5. 5. Summary....................................................................................................................................................48 Benefits......................................................................................................................................................49 Method.......................................................................................................................................................49 Evaluate prototype.....................................................................................................................................49Prototype - Evaluate Prototype..........................................................................................50 Purpose .....................................................................................................................................................50 Benefits .....................................................................................................................................................50 Method.......................................................................................................................................................50 Reporting ...................................................................................................................................................50Usability Testing - Dignostic Evaluation...........................................................................50 Summary ...................................................................................................................................................50 Benefits .....................................................................................................................................................50 Method Planning .......................................................................................................................................51 Running sessions ......................................................................................................................................51 Output .......................................................................................................................................................51Usability Testing - Performance Testing...........................................................................51 Performance testing Summary ..................................................................................................................51 Benefits .....................................................................................................................................................51 Method Planning .......................................................................................................................................52 Running sessions ......................................................................................................................................52 Output .......................................................................................................................................................52Usability Testing - Heuristic Evaluation............................................................................52 Benefits .....................................................................................................................................................53 Method ......................................................................................................................................................53 Planning ....................................................................................................................................................53 Running .....................................................................................................................................................53 Reporting ...................................................................................................................................................53Usability Testing - Critical Incident Technique.................................................................54 Critical Incident Technique Analysis Summary .........................................................................................54 Benefits .....................................................................................................................................................54 Method ......................................................................................................................................................54 What do you test .......................................................................................................................................54 How do you test it ......................................................................................................................................54 Analysis and Reporting .............................................................................................................................54UI Specifications................................................................................................................55 1 Purpose of the Document.......................................................................................................................55 2 UI Design Introduction.............................................................................................................................55 2.1 Consistency..........................................................................................................................................55 2.2 Accessibility (A11Y).............................................................................................................................56 3 Developing the UI....................................................................................................................................56 3.1 Top Level Panel...................................................................................................................................56 3.2 Component Hierarchy..........................................................................................................................56 3.3 Proper Components.............................................................................................................................56 NetBeans Components..............................................................................................................................56 Wrapped label............................................................................................................................................57 3.4 Layout..................................................................................................................................................57 Resizing.....................................................................................................................................................57 3.5 Component Visual Properties..............................................................................................................57 3.6 Texts....................................................................................................................................................57 3.7 Keyboard navigation............................................................................................................................57 Tab traversal..............................................................................................................................................58 Mnemonics.................................................................................................................................................58 3.8 Accessibility..........................................................................................................................................58 3.9 Windows and Dialogs...........................................................................................................................59Use Cases...........................................................................................................................59 Usability 5 of 59
  6. 6. User-Centered Design (UCD)We employ User-Centered Design (UCD) techniques to evaluate technology products. The ultimate goals ofUCD are to develop easy-to-use products that lead to increased user satisfaction and meet yourorganizational or business objectives. The Center focuses primarily on analysis of user requirements,conceptual design of technology products, and usability evaluation.What is UCD?UCD is a philosophy that places the user at the center of the design and development process right from thevery beginning when the product is still in the conception phase and checking at every step of the way withpotential users to be sure they will be comfortable with the final design.NOTE: Although UCD is the ideal process for product development, it presupposes that you employ it rightfrom the very beginning. If you have already begun development or are at the final stages, doing someproduct evaluation is better than doing none and it will yield very useful user feedback, which you canincorporate into the product design before launch.Components of UCDUsability and accessibility product evaluation are two critical components of the user-centered design (UCD)process.Usability - Measures the effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction with which users achieve specified goals: • Effectiveness - Can users complete tasks, achieve goals with the product, do what they want to do? • Efficiency - How much effort and time do users require to achieve their goals? Usability 6 of 59
  7. 7. • Satisfaction - What do users think about the products ease of use?Accessibility - Enhances Web sites, Web applications, software, and other products to ensure that they areunderstandable and navigable for users of all abilities.Design Stages: • User Requirements Analysis o Work with product team to decide on product goals from the perspective of the user and the organization/business o Determine the user needs and target usability requirements o Conduct expert evaluation (heuristic evaluation) of existing product user interface o Perform a Web accessibility compliance evaluation o Perform a competitive analysis o Perform user interviews and surveys • Conceptual Design, Prototypes, and Evaluation o Work with the design and development team to sketch out a high-level product design o Rapidly create visual representations (mockups) or interactive representations (Prototypes) of the product. o Evaluate usability through focus groups, front-end concept evaluation, and walkthroughs o Repeat this process (design iteration) until the design and usability goals are met • Design and Implementation o Work with the design and development team to revise user interface based on concept evaluation o Create the user interface using standards-compliant code o Design for accessibility NOTE: Since development is not the primary focus of the UAC, we work with the department of Communication and Information Technologies within the Office of University Outreach and Engagement and other organizations to coordinate and support the work in this stage. • Usability Evaluation o Conduct the user experience evaluation on the final design o Conduct an accessibility compliance evaluation based on Section 508 standards and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (for Web sites and Web applications) o Work with the design and development team to improve the product based on evaluation results o Repeat this process (production iteration) until the organizational/business goals are met • Launch and Maintenance o Document everything o Continue to collect feedback from users/customers to improve the product in future releasesWhat is Usability?Usability addresses the relationship between tools and their users. In order for a tool to be effective, it mustallow intended users to accomplish their tasks in the best way possible. The same principle applies tocomputers, websites, and other software. In order for these systems to work, their users must be able toemploy them effectively.What makes a website or piece of software usable?Usability depends on a number of factors including how well the functionality fits user needs, how well theflow through the application fits user tasks, and how well the response of the application fits userexpectations. We can learn to be better user interface designers by learning design principles and design Usability 7 of 59
  8. 8. guidelines. But even the most insightful designer can only create a highly usable system through a processthat involves getting information from people who actually use the system. Usability is the quality of a systemthat makes it easy to learn, easy to use, easy to remember, error tolerant, and subjectively pleasing.Why is Usability Important?From the users perspective usability is important because it can make the difference between performing atask accurately and completely or not, and enjoying the process or being frustrated. From the developersperspective usability is important because it can mean the difference between the success or failure of asystem. From a management point of view, software with poor usability can reduce the productivity of theworkforce to a level of performance worse than without the system. In all cases, lack of usability can costtime and effort, and can greatly determine the success or failure of a system. Given a choice, people willtend to buy systems that are more user-friendly.How Do You Achieve a High Level of Usability?The key principle for maximizing usability is to employ iterative design, which progressively refines thedesign through evaluation from the early stages of design. The evaluation steps enable the designers anddevelopers to incorporate user and client feedback until the system reaches an acceptable level of usability.The preferred method for ensuring usability is to test actual users on a working system. Achieving a highlevel of usability requires focusing design efforts on the intended end-user of the system. There are manyways to determine who the primary users are, how they work, and what tasks they must accomplish.However, clients schedules and budgets can sometimes prevent this ideal approach. Some alternativemethods include user testing on system prototypes, a usability inspection conducted by experts, andcognitive modeling.Where is Usability Applied?Usability is one of the focuses of the field of Human-Computer Interaction. As the name suggests, usabilityhas to do with bridging the gap between people and machines. A user interface (or human-computerinterface) refers to the parts of a hardware and/or software system that allow a person to communicate withit. This includes output devices (the way the computer talks to a user) and input devices (the way a usertalks to the computer). Typical "output devices" include computer monitors and the windowing systems thatrun on them, but also include speakers and other devices that provide feedback. "Input devices" includeperipherals like keyboards, mice, and joysticks, but also include microphones and even eye movementdevices. Each of these interface components has devices corresponding to the visual (sight), aural (sound),and haptic (touch) channels of the brain. Usability engineering studies these elements of the usersexperience.MethodsThere are a variety of approaches to usability evaluation that you may choose to take. The methodologiescan be divided into two broad categories: those that gather data from actual users and those that can beapplied without actual users present. • Your choice of method depends on: • Cost of evaluation • Appropriateness to project • Time constraints • Cost of implementation • Cost of training new usersUsability evaluations can be conducted at many stages during and after the design and developmentprocess. In choosing a method, it is important to calculate the cost not only in terms of time and materialsinvolved, but also in terms of the impact on the end-users, especially considering the cost of losing returnvisitors to your website due to unusable design. Usability 8 of 59
  9. 9. Methods - Methods Section OverviewCognitive Walkthrough is an approach to evaluating an interface based on breaking down and analyzingactions that a user must perform in order to use the system or perform a task.Focus Groups gather groups of users to get their feedback, initial reactions to a design, and discuss theirpreferences. Focus groups can be useful for raising issues that may not come out during interviews.GOMS is a family of techniques for modeling and describing human task performance. GOMS is anacronym that stands for Goals, Operators, Methods, and Selection Rules.Prototyping involves developing representations of a system for testing purposes and can range fromsimple sketches to almost fully functional systems.Task Analysis evaluates how the end-user actually uses software or websites. An analyst determines theuser goals and tasks, and then makes recommendations aimed at increasing efficiency and user-friendliness.Usability Inspection reviews a system based on a set of usability guidelines. Experts familiar with issues ofusability in design perform the usability inspection.User Testing observes actual users interacting with software or websites. Users are asked to perform taskswhile usability experts observe and take note of their actionsCognitive WalkthroughWhat is it?Cognitive walkthrough is a review technique where expert evaluators construct task scenarios from aspecification or early prototype and then role play the part of a user working with that interface--"walkingthrough" the interface. They act as if the interface was actually built and they (in the role of a typical user)was working through the tasks. Each step the user would take is scrutinized: impasses where the interfaceblocks the "user" from completing the task indicate that the interface is missing something. Convoluted,circuitous paths through function sequences indicate that the interface needs a new function that simplifiesthe task and collapses the function sequence.How do I do it?Begin by evaluating a system specification in terms of the tasks users will perform with that system. It helpsto identify the users goals and purpose for each task. For example, the interface for operating a car beginswith the goals of opening the door, sitting down in the drivers seat with the controls easily accessible, andstarting the car. And were not even driving yet! This example shows the granularity that some walkthroughsattain. The goal of "opening the door" could be broken down into sub-goals: find the key, orient the key,unlock the door, open the door. Each of these goals requires cognitive (thinking) and physical actions. Toopen the door, do I orient my hand with the palm up or with the palm down? What affordances are providedfor opening the door? During the walkthrough, identify problems in attaining the goals. For example, somecar doors accept keys only if theyre oriented one way. Does this cause an unacceptable delay for the user?Since the sub-goal of opening the door is a prerequisite to operating the car, this might be a large issue.When should I use this technique?Cognitive walkthroughs are great for the early stages of development because they can be performed usingjust system specifications as a basis. Artists conceptions of what screens might look like can be used to givethe walkthrough a more realistic bent. Usability 9 of 59
  10. 10. GOMSGOMS is a family of techniques proposed by Card, Moran, and Newell (1983), for modeling and describinghuman task performance. GOMS is an acronym that stands for Goals, Operators, Methods, and SelectionRules, the components of which are used as the building blocks for a GOMS model. Goals represent thegoals that a user is trying to accomplish, usually specified in a hierarchical manner. Operators are the set ofatomic-level operations with which a user composes a solution to a goal. Methods represent sequences ofoperators, grouped together to accomplish a single goal. Selection Rules are used to decide which methodto use for solving a goal when several are applicable.GOMS Models: An Approach to Rapid Usability EvaluationThis project is a set of technology transfer activities concerned with moving the research results in human-computer interaction into practical methodologies for designing computer system interfaces that are in facteasy to learn and easy to use. The research results of interest are those from earlier and ongoing projectsconcerned with constructing and evaluating computational models of human cognition and performance inthe context of humans interacting with systems.The payoff of applying these models to interface design results from the limitations in the standard humanfactors methods for developing usable systems. These methods are effective, but are slow and costly toapply because they are based on empirical user testing: In a scientifically controlled setting, actual humanusers perform actual tasks using a prototype system; their performance is recorded and analyzed, alongwith any apparent problems and difficulties. The system design is then revised, and the system re-prototyped, and the test repeated, until overall system performance is adequate, no further problems arenoted, or time and money has run out.The goal of this work is to radically reduce the time and cost of designing usable systems throughdeveloping analytic engineering models for usability based on validated computational models of humancognition and performance. These models take a specification for a user interface design and a descriptionof the user tasks that need to be carried out, and generate predictions of the time required to learn how touse the system, and the time required to carry out specific tasks. These predictions can be used instead ofempirically collected data for much of the design process, thus saving considerable resources. The currentmodels address the procedural quality of the interface -- the complexity, consistency, and speed of theprocedures that the user must learn and execute in order to make use of the system. These models canhelp the design produce an interface that is reasonably usable, and then the slow and expensive empiricaltesting can be reserved for examining aspects of the interface not addressed by the models, and as a finalcheck on the design.The GOMS ModelEarlier research in HCI has resulted in a general concept, the GOMS model, which represents theprocedural knowledge required to operate a system in terms of the user Goals, basic actions or Operators,Methods, which are sequences of operators that will accomplish goals, and Selection rules, which determinewhich method to apply to accomplish a goal. Research by Kieras and others has shown how this type ofanalysis can be used to obtain usefully accurate predictions of learning and execution time. This work wasbased on using a production-system representation of human procedural knowledge; GOMS models can beconstructed using production systems, and so the empirical predictions can be generated from GOMSmodels.We are involved a variety of activities to extend and apply this framework, and turn it into a teachable,standard methodology that can be applied in industry. An important first step was to encapsulate the earlierresearch on GOMS models into a task analysis method and model representation notation, called NGOMSL,that makes it easy to construct and apply a GOMS model. After learning this notation and techniques,software developers can calculate estimated learning and executing times, and identify man y qualitativeproblems in an interface design. Accumulating experience and research shows that such models are indeedpractical and effective in interface design situations.We are extending and refining the notation and modeling methodology to incorporate newer research resultsand make it even simpler and more useful. This notation, and the techniques associated with it, have beentaught in university courses and short courses for industrial and professional groups. Usability 10 of 59
  11. 11. Usability InspectionA usability inspection is a review of a system based on a set of guidelines. The review is conducted by agroup of experts who are deeply familiar with the concepts of usability in design. The experts focus on a listof areas in design that have been shown to be troublesome for users.Usability guidelines are usually derived from studies in human-computer interaction, ergonomics, graphicdesign, information design, and cognitive psychology. Some areas that get evaluated are the language usedin the system, the amount of recall required of the user at each step in a process, and how the systemprovides feedback to the user. In particular, issues such as clarity, consistency, navigation, and errorminimization are analyzed. Once the problems are discovered, the experts make recommendations forresolving these issues.Formal Usability InspectionsWhat is it?Formal Usability Inspection takes the software inspection methodology and adapts it to usability evaluation.Software inspections, more commonly known as code inspections, started at IBM as a way to formalize thediscovery and recording of software problems ("defects" in quality jargon, "bugs" in the vernacular). Thetechnique also provided quantitative measurements that could be tracked using statistical process controlmethods. Code inspections were also adapted to check and track documentation defects, and usabilitydefects were a logical next step.Formal usability inspections include aspects of other inspection methods too. Heuristics are used to helpnon-usability professionals find usability defects. Inspectors walkthrough tasks with the users goals andpurpose in mind, similar to cognitive walkthroughs, although the emphasis is less on cognitive theory andmore on encountering defects.How do I do it?This method formalizes the review of a specification or early prototype. The basic steps are to assemble ateam of four to eight inspectors, assign each a special role in the context of the inspection, distribute thedesign documents to be inspected and instructions, have the inspectors go off on their own to do theirinspection, and convene later in a formal inspection meeting. Defects found are assigned to responsibleparties to be fixed, and the cycle continues.Assemble the team. Pick a team of interested people, that is, people that have a stake in making the designmore usable. This usually includes engineers from the design, quality assurance, documentation, training,and technical support groups. Each person brings a diverse viewpoint to look at the design, and the potentialto discover usability defects is greater with a diverse team.Assign roles. The formal usability inspection methodology borrows the inspection roles concept from codeinspections. Each person on the team, besides having to inspect the design, has a role to play during theformal meeting. These roles are the following:Moderator: Runs the meeting. Distributes and collects any materials needed. Schedules meetings, andcoordinates defect assignment.Owner: Designer of the product to be inspected. Usually the person to which defects are assigned. Fixesthe defects.Recorder (sometimes called Scribe): Logs defects during the formal meeting.Inspectors: Everybody else. Inspects the design and reports any defects found. Everyones an inspectorregardless of their other role. Usability 11 of 59
  12. 12. Distribute documents. For code inspections, this would be a code listing with line numbers plus instructionson what to look for--bad choice of syntax, variable problems, etc. For usability inspections, these includedescriptions of the product, including screen mockups if any, user profiles, typical user tasks, heuristics touse, and a defect logging form.Inspect the design. The inspectors work alone through the design and log the defects they find on theprovided form. Having a form with an agreed-upon format for logging helps later during the formal meetingwhen the defects are discussed with the other inspectors. Each inspector assumes the role of a specific userfrom the user profile and walks through the tasks of a particular scenario. Prior to inspection, each inspectorshould review the heuristics and keep them in mind during their solo inspection sessions. Sometimes theform can be adapted to incorporate the heuristics as a checklist. Defects are logged according to the taskthe inspector was trying to execute and the location of the defect. With code inspections, the defect islocated by line number--however, line numbers arent usually present in interfaces. Defect location can begiven as the screen and field or control name, or by the command and option attempted.Hold the formal meeting. During the meeting, the moderator walks the team through each task/scenario as agroup. Inspectors chime in at each step with the defects they found during their own inspection. Often, a lotof new defects are found as the inspectors discuss each defect--different aspects one inspector might nothave thought of are brought up during the meeting. Everybody agrees on the recorders logging of thedefect--this formal log will be tracked later.Inspectors might be tempted to think up solutions during the meeting, or the owner might take umbrage atthe pronounced defects and protest each entry. These delays make the meeting run less smoothly and hurtthe methods chance of success. Part of the mediators role is to reduce these distractions so the defectscan be agreggated and logged. Therell be plenty of time to fix them later.Prioritize and fix the defects. Defects logged during the meeting are assigned to responsible persons to befixed. The moderator often coordinates this effort, tracking fixed and open defects, and arranging solution-brainstorming meetings if necessary.When should I use this technique?Like other inspection methods, this technique is designed to reduce the time required to discover defects ina tight product design cycle. Since the inspectors can work with merely a specification or paper mockups,the technique lends itself well to early stages of development.PlanningPlanning the Site Planning is critical because it helps you focus your objectives. It also helps you plan forusability activities that are part of the process of developing a successful site. Before you design, you mustthink about:Why Are You Developing a Web Site?I formation architects, designers, developers, and usability specialists should meet with projectmanagers, content owners (subject matter specialists), and users to establish objectives for thesite. What you want to achieve is a focused vision of what you — or your company or youragency — wish to do through the site.Set measurable objectives. Think like a business. Develop measurable objectives. Askquestions like these: • How will I know (quantitatively) if the site is successful? · • What will the consequences be if the site is not successful?Who Should Come to Your Site?A public Web site is available to everyone. But "everyone" is not necessarily the best definition of theaudiences for your site. Think specifically about the people you want to attract to your site. You almost Usability 12 of 59
  13. 13. certainly have customers you want to target, probably several different groups of customers. List thosegroups.Decide on your target audiences.Sometimes it is useful to think of your target audiences by roles in relationship to the site. A classic divisionfor e-commerce sites is "browsers" and "buyers." For another site, targeted audiences might be divided bytype; for example: • Researchers outside the agency • Researchers inside the agency • Other staff in the division • Non-research staff elsewhere in the agency .For other situations, it may be useful to categorize audiences by profession, age, gender, or othercharacteristics.The categories that are meaningful are ones that will lead you to think about what content to include andhow to organize that content.Keep user characteristics in mind while designing. You should also note several relevant characteristics ofeach audience to help you build a mental portrait of typical users in each group.For example, relevant characteristics for researchers might be: • Busy • Detail-oriented • Knowledgeable about research and their subject matter • May or may not be very experienced on the WebRelevant characteristics for cancer patients and their families might be: anxious · highly motivated to getinformation · may not know medical terminology • Anxious • Highly motivated to get information • May not know medical terminologyWhen and Why Will They Come?In the first planning question, "Why are you developing a Web site," you focused on your goals for the site —or your companys goals or the agencys goals. Users also have goals. Most users come to Web sites onwhat Jared Spool (an expert in the field of usability) calls "missions." They need something.Analyze context of use & Content QualityBenefits • Ensure that all factors that relate to use of the system are identified before design work starts. • Provide a basis for designing later usability testsMethod - Planning • A good way to collect the information is to arrange a half-day meeting. • Invite stakeholders who have knowledge about the intended users and usage.This may include: • Project manager · • User representative(s) · • Developer(s) · Usability 13 of 59
  14. 14. • Training • SupportBefore the meeting • When using a detailed checklist, to avoid prolonging the meeting it is important to fill in advance any items that are not contentious and highlight the issues that need to be discussed. • Provide all participants with a copy of the checklist.At the meeting • Discuss and fill in each item on the context checklist. Try to obtain consensus where there is uncertainty or disagreement. If information is missing, agree how this can be obtained. Avoid prolonged discussion of minor issues.After the meeting • Obtain any missing information. If the information is not easily available, arrange a field study to observe users in their work environment. • Circulate to all participants a summary of the conclusions, and the filled in checklist. Output description of the context of use, derived from the completed checklist.RelevanceTo be useful to an Internet audience, each site must deliver entertainment or knowledge, or improve the wayits audience accomplishes some important task (such as purchase tickets or get fit). Designers sometimestake it for granted that their content is relevant. They also sometimes take it for granted that audiences willsee or discover the relevance of their site.Overall checklist • As you design and produce content for your site, use the following questions as a site review checklist: • Will the topic matter be interesting to the core audience? • Will people have an opportunity to learn?How to improve relevance • Make relevant, high-quality content your number one priority. Everything else is secondary, including look and feel, ease of use, uniqueness to the medium, and promotion. • Use market research to determine your target market and how valuable that market finds your sites primary content. • Tell potential audience members how your site is relevant to them. • Identify related topics or tasks that are important to your target market.Overall checklist • Will the graphics be appealing to the core audience? • Will the audio be pleasing to the core audience? • Does the music evoke the appropriate mood or emotion? • Will the experience be enjoyable if a person views the site without audio?When to use animation • Permanently moving (looping) animations should rarely be included on a Web page because they will make it very hard for your audience to concentrate on other page content. Research suggests that movement in our peripheral vision can dominate our attention. Research also indicates that moving text is harder to read than static text. • Use animation to draw the audiences attention to a single element out of several, or to alert people to updated information. • Use animation to indicate the function of a hot spot (for example, a moving hiker could indicate the current location of Mungo Park adventurers). • Use animation to draw attention to changes from one state to another (for example, animated map area changes could indicate deforestation over time). Usability 14 of 59
  15. 15. • Use animation to demonstrate navigation in a particular direction (for example, a simple page-flip animation could easily distinguish forward from backward movement). • Use animation to create icons for actions that cant be adequately expressed with a flat, static picture. In one experiment, such icons increased the comprehension of a set of abstract toolbar actions from 62 percent to 100 percent (Ronald Baecker, Ian Small, Richard Mander, "Bringing Icons to Life," in Proceedings of ACM CHI91 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Use of Familiar Things in the Design of Interfaces, pp. 1-6, 1991).How to improve content depth and breadth • Provide links to additional high-quality information in your articles or topics. • Link people directly to relevant content (for example, the Cinemania article on Star Wars) rather than the front page of an information resource (for example, the Cinemania home page). • Add a consistent icon or motif to notify people when a link will take them off your site. • Provide enough content breadth to appeal to a non-niche audience. • Tailor search interfaces to the content domain. Present simple starting options. Prioritize and format results for easy scanning. Use query reformulation techniques (that is, indicate related concepts, or offer to find "more like this") to refine the search. • Timely/Current Information • Obviously, timely information is more reliable and more interesting than stale information. Most sites do a poor job of communicating that their content is fresh and that they have a release schedule with specific exciting events.Overall checklist • Will the site feature the latest information available on the topic? • Does your site clearly tell people when and how often content is updated?How to improve site timeliness • Use visual design cues to let people know that your information is timely. Include episode and article dates. Animation associated with dynamic content will reinforce its timeliness. • Tie content to current real-world events (such as movies, events, political elections, holidays, and so forth). • Highlight timely content on your sites home page. Dont count on people navigating to discover that you have fresh content. • Highlight fresh content in your promos to let people know you always have something new. • Notify people to visit your site for exciting future eventsGoalsWhen you started thinking about your site, you probably had a few killer ideas about what would hookpeople and make them want to return to your site. These high-priority features have to grab the viewersattention as soon as they reach the site. By using design and written languages smartly, you can give youraudience a set of goals that will lead them directly to your best content or help them experience your site inthe way youd like it to be experienced.Overall checklist • Will the goal, subject matter, or point of the site be immediately clear? • Is the value proposition (whats the relevance for me?) clearly conveyed? • Will the basic steps to achieve the goal be clear from the start? • Especially for games, will there be clear indications of progress toward the main goal? • Is there any danger that the use of metaphors, language, graphics, or sounds set an inappropriate expectation for the site?How to help people achieve their information goals • Prioritize your content. • Boldly promote your most exciting content with size, color, animation, and/or screen position. Minimize less important content. • Organize your home page/site by creating clearly distinguishable areas. Chunk information into visual groups, based on topic or functional similarity from the audiences perspective (such as the navbar, the adventure area, and the ad area). Usability 15 of 59
  16. 16. • Use meaningful and consistent button names to label sections and content areas. Use distinguishing adjectives to label special versions of common Internet activities (for example, Kids Chat or News Chat).StructureA simple, clear structure and prominent in-site location feedback will enable your audience to easilynavigate, greatly increasing your sites appeal. Icons, labels, metaphors, and other information may not beevident to the average person. Clarity on all levels is crucial.Overall checklist • Will the design clearly communicate the sites core activities? • Will the terms (especially the sites title and sections) adequately communicate the consequences of selection or action? • Will the core activities require few actions to locate? • When appropriate, can each audience member control the pace of sequences (for example, skip or replay sequences)? How to improve structure • Most navigation pages should not scroll. However, a scrolling page should be used to contain a long list of navigation links that form a conceptual unit (for example, NFL team links). • Try not to overload your pages with navigation choices. People will stop reading options after they see 4-5 distinct choices. • When people see a page, they immediately start trying to make sense of all their options. Grouping choices into functional units will reduce mental effort and help people quickly interpret your whole page. For example, with the appropriate layout people will quickly interpret a list of 12 adjectives (such as comedy, drama, western, and so on) as a single set of movie genres. • Content pages should contain one conceptual unit of content. In general, people prefer to scroll to continue a single unit of content like an article, skit, or short story, rather than click from page to page of an article. If people do need to click to continue an article, the word "continue" or a small right arrow () set into the context of the article have been effective. Dont visually separate article continuation buttons from the text body. • Avoid labeling buttons "Back," "Next," or "More." Its best to name the actual content (for example, "To page 2" or "To Bob Bejan cover story"). • Provide context for links whenever possible (for example, "To Bejan video clip, download = 50 seconds). • Distinguish between decorative and functional graphic elements (links). Use 3-D, layout, rollovers, and cursor changes. • Group navigation elements in a common space that people can easily distinguish from content. This will avoid confusion and reduce the effort required for people to find what they need. • Place navigation elements or navbars in a consistent and/or predictable location. • Provide a home base that is easy to locate. • Break text in mid-sentence and/or use visual design cues to keep people reading past "visual cliffs" or "below the fold" (for example, the bottom of a page). • Never make the viewer scroll to locate important navigation buttons or the focal point of a page (such as "Buy now"). • Avoid page-load tricks that trap people in an endless loop when they try to use the back button to leave some part of your site. • Instructions and/or help should be presented in the context of completing tasks. Instructions and help should be task-focused rather than feature-focused, and use common language rather than computer jargon. • Use multiple choice (for example, The capital of Illinois is a. Chicago or b. Springfield) to complete difficult tasks. Recognition is easier than recall (for example, The capital of Illinois is __?).COMPETITOR ANALYSISMarketing Plan Components: Competitor & Issues AnalysisThe purpose of the Competitor and Issues Analysis section of your marketing plan is to explain indetail the external challenges and opportunities your business may face. Usability 16 of 59
  17. 17. Even though preparation of the analysis will take time, it will be worth it. You can benefit in a number ofways.Benefits of Preparing a Competitor and Issues Analysis • Youll discover your companys competitive advantage–the reason customers do business with you instead of your competition. Then youll be able to communicate your competitive advantage effectively to win potential customers. • Analyzing current issues and your competitors offerings may spur ideas for innovative improvements to your product offerings. • You might find that there are some categories of customers whose needs are not being met. For example, if you plan to prepare and deliver gourmet meals, you may discover that a particular part of town is not currently being served. If you can satisfy unmet needs, youll develop a market "niche." • By observing the actions of your competitors, you might learn more about your market. For example, does a successful competitor offer reduced prices during a particular season? If so, what might that tell you about your markets spending habits? • If you find that your market is saturated with capable competitors, you can avoid the costly mistake of starting a business without adequate demand. You can then redirect your efforts toward something that will pay off instead. (For example, your research may tell you that theres an ample number of thriving gourmet meal services in your targeted market area already.)COMPETITOR ANALYSISWhat to address in your competitor analysis • Names of competitors - At first glance, this may seem like an exercise in list-making. Obviously, if you sell ice cream by the cone, your competitors include other ice cream vendors. However, youre also competing with other dessert treats offered by grocery stores as well as other items competing for consumers discretionary funds. So, list all of your competitors and include information on any that might enter the market during the next year. • Summary of each competitors products - This summary should also include their location, quality, advertising, staff, distribution methods, promotional strategies, customer service, etc. • Competitors strengths and weaknesses - Its important to see your competitors strengths and weaknesses from your customers viewpoint, not yours. List their strengths and weaknesses. State how you will capitalize on their weaknesses and meet the challenges represented by their strengths. • Competitors strategies and objectives - This information might be easily obtained by getting a copy of their annual report. Probably, however, you will need to do some detective work or conduct an analysis of many information sources to understand competitors strategies and objectives. • Strength of the market - Is the market for your product growing sufficiently so there are plenty of customers for all market players? Or, is the market so tight you are selling primarily to your competitors customers? (If so, you need to have a strong competitive advantage.)Requirement - Early usability testsCharacteristics • Users usually come to you • You usually develop the scenarios • Small numbers: one or two users at a time • Total numbers: five to 12 users • You observe and listen to actual behaviors • May be formal or informal, quantitative and/or qualitative results • Tester and user need not be at same locationEarly usability testsConsider starting your project with a usability test. Usability 17 of 59
  18. 18. If you already have a Web site, you can find out 5/21/2007what works well for your users andwhat does not. If you do not yet have a site, use a competitors site or one that has similarpurposes.You can learn a great deal that will help you build a new site — what to keep, what to expand on,what to change, how to avoid others mistakes.A usability test can be done quickly and inexpensively. What a usability test reveals about whatusers actually do is usually more valuable than what you learn in interviews and focus groupswhere you ask users about themselves and their work.What users say they do and what they actually do are often different — because people arent always awareof how they work. When talking about our work, we all skip steps because we do them automatically. Weoften cannot remember exactly how we do or did something. Watching and listening as users work is themost informative way to see what people do — and to get what you need to build a successful site.Requirement - User SurveysSurveying user opinions of ease of use • Do your users think your web site is easy to use? • What aspects of your software need improving? • Are users satisfied with your interface design? • Find the answers - ask your users! • For many organisations their Internet and/or intranet web services are a central part of their business, but few have analysed what their users think about them. • Software developers hear about user complaints - but are they representative? What sort of users are dissatisfied, are they typical? A properly designed survey can answer these and other questions. · • Designing and conducting your own survey is a laborious task with numerous pitfalls - an independent service can be the answer. • Usability Partners can provide a range of different standardised questionnaires for various types of product. Scientifically developed to produce valid and reliable results.Different Surveys • Standard questionnaires • Customized standard questionnaires • Tailored surveys • Multiple languagesRequirement - Contextual InquiryCharacteristics • You go to the users home or work site • Users do their own work (different scenarios with different users) • Small numbers: one or two users at a time • Total numbers: five to 12 users • You observe and listen to actual behaviors • You see users environments and the technology users have • Usually informal dialogue with user, qualitative results • Interviewer and user are physically at same location Contextual inquiry Contextual inquiry is basically a structured field interviewing method, based on a few core Usability 18 of 59
  19. 19. principles that differentiate this method from plain, journalistic interviewing. Contextual inquiry is more a discovery process than an evaluative process; more like learning than testing. Site visits Site visits are visits to customers with the goal of gathering data on the work practices of users. As soon as possible after the visit, the interview and observation data is collated into simple models of the working practices in interpretation sessions, and then consolidated into comprehensive models. The models form the foundation of the interaction design. This article covers the purpose and conduct of site visits. Stalk your user Design, ultimately, is problem solving. And the best way to discover which problems need solving is to look for them in context. Contextual inquiry is an increasingly popular method for discovering design information. Also known as ethnographic research or field studies, the idea is deceptively simple: Build useful products and watch your users as they work. The process itself sounds even easier: Go to where your users are and tag along with them. What is contextual enquiry? Contextual enquiry is a technique for examining and understanding users and their workplace, tasks, issues and preferences. It can be used to produce user needs analyses and task analyses, and feeds directly into design.Contextual Inquiry, What is it?Contextual inquiry is basically a structured field interviewing method, based on a few core principles thatdifferentiate this method from plain, journalistic interviewing. Contextual inquiry is more a discovery processthan an evaluative process; more like learning than testing.Contextual inquiry is based on three core principles: that understanding the context in which a product isused (the work being performed) is essential for elegant design, that the user is a partner in the designprocess, and that the usability design process, including assessment methods like contextual inquiry andusability testing, must have a focus.For example, suppose you need to assess the usability of a wrench for automotive repair. Using contextualinquiry, youd visit mechanics at auto repair shops and see how they work. Youd take in not only physicalarrangements such as the location of the tool chests, or cramped conditions inside engine compartments,but also environmental concerns, such as the level of cleanliness of their hands, or the noise level in theshop, or the tight schedules imposed by their bosses. All of these would help define a context for their work--and thus a context for the usage of your product, the wrench.Youd also listen to their gripes about your product; how it slips out of their hands if theyve been working ongreasy stuff, how it gnaws the corners off stubborn bolts. Youd ask them what would make their jobs easier;what design changes would help them. Theyre a partner in the design process.Of course, youd conduct all this research centering on the one thing youre analyzing: the wrench. Thisfocus is important--it sets the goals for the visit ("We need to know how they store their wrenches"). Onceyoure done with your site visit, you can assess from your notes whether you found out what you needed toknow.How do I do it?Contextual inquiry follows many of the same process steps as field observations or interviews. Differentconsiderations are kept in mind, however, with some portions of the process.For example, interviewing during a contextual inquiry study usually does not include set, broadly wordedquestions. Instead, the partnership between the interviewer and interviewee is used to create a dialogue,one where the interviewer can not only determine the users opinions and experiences, but also his or hermotivations and context. Usability 19 of 59
  20. 20. A lot of times, just having the interviewer around is going to make the interviewee a bit edgy. As theinterviewer, you really need to be part of the users world to be effective--sometimes, it takes a while beforetheyre used to you hanging around. At that point, the job becomes much easier, since the users youinterview will be more at ease with telling you what they really think about your product.This usually means that this is a long-term study; you set up a relationship with the organization yourestudying and agree on when youre going to visit, how often youll be on site, and how long youll be thereeach time. Its a lot like ethnographic studies where the ethnographer goes off to live in a particular culturefor a year or two.Figuring out who to interview is very important. Many times, the end user youre keeping in mind isnt theperson thats going to be affected the most by your design or redesign. For example, when many corporateapplications change or are upgraded, the person that is affected the most is the management informationsystems (MIS) person who has to go around and install the application on every computer in the building.Hanging around that person for a day will certainly give you an appreciation for ensuring that the installationprocess and interface is well designed.Once youre done with the visit, assess whether you met your goals for the visit. Analyze your notes todetermine questions for your next visit.When should I use this technique?Contextual inquiry is one of the best methods to use when you really need to understand the users workcontext. Many times, the environment in which people work really influences how people use a product. Itsounds like a cliche, but there really are people who print out their email and mark it up with commentsbefore replying.Also, this technique is great for finding out about work practices in domains that you know nothing about--whether its lawyers looking up cases in a digital library, or roughnecks on an oil rig, or soldiers cooped up ina tank.This technique is best used in the early stages of development, since a lot of the information youll get issubjective--how people feel about their jobs, how work or information flows through the organization, etc.Requirement - User ObservationSummaryObservational methods involve an investigator viewing users as they work in a field study, and taking noteson the activity that takes place. Observation may be either direct, where the investigator is actually presentduring the task, or indirect, where the task is viewed by some other means such as through use of a videorecorder. The method is useful early in user requirements specification for obtaining qualitative data. It isalso useful for studying currently executed tasks and processes.BenefitsAllows the observer to view what users actually do in context. Direct observation allows the investigator tofocus attention on specific areas of interest. Indirect observation captures activity that would otherwise havegone unrecorded or unnoticed.It should be noted that observation can be obtrusive and subjects may alter their behaviour due to thepresence of an observer. Co-operation of users is vital, so the interpersonal skills of the observer areimportant. Notes and videotapes need to be analysed by the note-taker, which can be time consuming andprevents the task being split up for analysis by a number of people.Planning • Establish objectives and information requirements. Should the coverage be in breadth or in depth? It is extremely important to decide what will happen to the end-product of this process, and to tailor the whole process to the requirements of those who will receive the results. Usability 20 of 59
  21. 21. • Gain co-operation of contacts with the observation technique that you intend to carry out. Establish the times, places, and people who will be observed. Note that in some countries the law may prohibit you from taking video films of people without their explicit written consent. • Decide on the recording technique you will use. Will you rely on hand-written notes (traditional), audio, or video and audio records? Note that the more complete your record, the longer it takes to analyze. It is useful to be able to make some kind of first-cut analysis during observation.Running • Make sure that those being observed are aware of the reason for your study and that they do not see you in negative terms. This is particularly important for mentally impaired and blind users who may be disturbed by a passive presence that they are not sure about. • Run a pilot observation session to get a feel for what to expect and to test out any observation sheets. This will also help to judge how long the observation session needs to be. If the session involves informal activities with the general public, they may wish to converse with the observer. Make sure that there is enough time for this. • Try to be as unobtrusive as possible. Do not let yourself or your equipment get in the way. • Note down any events that you do not understand and try to clarify them with the user as soon as the session is completed. • Try to be aware of the range of influences that are affecting the user. • If possible photograph the users work area or the area of operation as this will act as a reminder of the environmental context. • After your observations, write down your first impressions before the analysis stage later on.Reporting • Analyze, summaries, and report in relation to the objectives set out at the start.Guidelines for User ObservationIntroductionUser testing covers a wide range of activities designed to obtain information on the interactions betweenusers and computers. Most user testing requires considerable expertise in research methods, as well as skillin using complex data collection tools. For example, user-testing techniques include: interviews, focusgroups, surveys, timed performance tests, keystroke protocols, and controlled laboratory experiments. Ofthe many user-testing techniques available, user observation is one technique that can be used by anyonewith a concern for including the user in the product development process.User observation involves watching and listening carefully to users as they work with a product. Although itis possible to collect far more elaborate data, observing users is a quick way to obtain an objective view of aproduct.When to observe usersUser observation should be an integral part of the design process---from the initial concept to the productsrelease. Software design that includes user observation is an iterative process; user feedback provides thedata for making design modifications. The iterative process assumes that preliminary human interfacedesigns should exist prior to the development of underlying code. Interface designs should be testedfrequently to determine which design should be implemented. Then, as the code develops, the entireproduct should be tested and revised several times.Preparing for a user observation • Set an objective: Before you do any testing, you should take time to figure out what youre testing and what youre not. In other words, determine an objective for your test that focuses on a specific aspect of the product. By limiting the scope of the test, youre more likely to get information that helps you solve a specific problem. • Design the tasks: Your test participant will work through one or more specific tasks. These tasks should be real tasks that you expect most users will do when they use your product. The entire user observation should not run over an hour, so you should design tasks that focus on the part of the product youre studying. For example, if you want to know whether your menus are useful, you Usability 21 of 59
  22. 22. could design a task that requires the participant to access the menus frequently. After you determine which tasks to use, write them out as short, simple instructions. • Important: Your instructions must be clear and complete, but they should not explain how to do things youre trying to test. For example, if you want to find out whether users can navigate through your program easily, dont give them instructions for navigation. Or, if you want to know whether your interface is self-explanatory, dont describe how it works. This concept is extremely important to remember. If you teach your participants about something youre trying to test, your data will not be useful. • Decide upon the use of videotape: Although you can observe users effectively without using special recording equipment, you may want to use videotape to capture the entire session. By videotaping the session, you collect an enormous amount of valuable information that you can review and analyze after the test is over. If video equipment is not available, a tape recorder can be helpful for recording what is said during the test. • Determine the setting: The ideal setting for user observation is a quiet, enclosed room with a desk, the appropriate hardware and software, a video camera, and two microphones (one for you and one for the participant). Of course, you may not have all these things available when you need to observe; therefore, you should try to approximate the ideal setting as closely as you can. If you have to conduct the observation in a regular office, ask the people around you to keep the noise level down during the observation. The key is to make the environment as interruption-free as possible. Get the participants out of their offices, away from phone calls and people who might drop by. • Find representative users: When looking for participants, try to find people who have the same experience level as the typical user for your product. Dont ask people you work with regularly to be participants because they are probably familiar with your product or your opinions about the product. Generally, you should look for people who are familiar with the hardware you use but are not familiar with your product. You may want to ask pairs of people to work together on your tasks. Youll find that people working in pairs usually talk more than people working alone, and they also tend to discuss features of the product and explain things to each other.Requirement - 10 STEPS - User Observation10 steps for conducting a user observationThe following instructions guide you through a simple user observation. Remember, this test is not designedas an experiment, so you will not get statistical results. You can, however, see where people have difficultyusing your product, and you can use that information to improve it. These instructions are organized intosteps. Under most of the steps, there is some explanatory text and a bulleted list. The bulleted list containssample statements that you can read to the participant. (Feel free to modify the statements to suit yourproduct and the situation.) 1. Introduce yourself. 2. Describe the purpose of the observation (in general terms). Set the participant at ease by stressing that youre trying to find problems in the product. For example, you could say: a. Youre helping us by trying out this product in its early stages. b. Were looking for places where the product may be difficult to use. c. If you have trouble with some of the tasks, its the products fault, not yours. Dont feel bad; thats exactly what were looking for. d. If we can locate the trouble spots, then we can go back and improve the product e. Remember, were testing the product, not you. 3. Tell the participant that its okay to quit at any time. Never leave this step out. Make sure you inform participants that they can quit at any time if they find themselves becoming uncomfortable. Participants shouldnt feel like theyre locked into completing tasks. Say something like this: a. Although I dont know of any reason for this to happen, if you should become uncomfortable or find this test objectionable in any way, you are free to quit at any time. 4. Talk about the equipment in the room. Explain the purpose of each piece of equipment (hardware, software, video camera, microphones, etc.) and how it is used in the test. 5. Explain how to think aloud. Ask participants to think aloud during the observation, saying what comes to mind as they work. By listening to participants think and plan, you can examine their expectations for your product, as well as their intentions and their problem solving strategies. Youll find that listening to users as they work provides you with an enormous amount of useful information that you can get no other way. Unfortunately, most people feel awkward or self- Usability 22 of 59

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