Writing to the World Wide
March 26th Recap:
Emilie Gould and Usability Testing
Emilie Gould continued with where she left off three weeks ago. She presented useful guidelines
for how to design and execute a usability test on software in general and on websites specifically.
Here's an outline of her talk:
Working with Human Subjects
- Any testing performed using human subjects is covered by guidelines established by the
American Medical Association.
- You need to get informed consent from your subjects. This means:
- tell them in general about your research.
- don't put them at risk.
- protect their identities.
- explain what you'll do with the results.
- reassure them that the software or interface is being tested, not them.
- Avoid working with a finished product.
- Use paper and pencil initially.
- Compare paper prototypes.
- Test content, navigation, links.
- Use contigent, hypothetical questions.
- let evaluators mark up your prototypes.
- The trend not is to less obtrusive approaches, meaning less equipment,
less "staged" testing environments.
- Audio, video, and note-taking are still needed.
- Choose between:
- Heuristic evaluation (where you use experts).
- Controlled laboratory experiment.
- Pairs testing (two people work together and discuss what they're doing).
- Supportive, talk aloud protocols (ask what they're doing; probe for information.
Method of Inquiry (Not a procedure)
- Decide what is a "failure" and what is a "success."
- Look for trivial problems; they often snowball into
- Don't telegraph the results you want.
- Let evaluators questions stimulate questions.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- Use probes if they don't articulate what is wrong.
Provide Consistency by Creating a Questionnaire
- Ask for subjecti e ratings for time, satisfaction, number of errors
that were encountered.
- Collect demographics.
- Write up notes as soon as possible.