Week 9: Usability Testing

usabilitytesting

This weeks readings  touched on usability testing and the importance of creating a great experience. While as designers we tend to create a seemingly great experience the truth is that may not be reflected when it comes to the end user. By definition usability testing refers to evaluating a product or service by testing it with representative users. Typically, during a test, participants will try to complete typical tasks while observers watch, listen and takes notes. In the first article that I read Usability Testing Demystified, the author gave a good outline on the process needed. First would be developing a test plan then choosing a proper testing environment and then selecting the proper participants. Next you would need to prepare the testing materials, conduct the sessions, debrief the participants and observers followed by analyzing the data and then creating findings and recommendations following this recipe.

The paper prototype video was a bit odd to me and seemed a bit over done. I like to sketch out details on a project but the time and effort put in this method to create all the elements might be useful time spent in other areas. My take on a prototype would be to present it in a digital version layered with options than can be turned on an off and quickly adjusted as needed. Many digital assets are available that can be used in a mockup such as form elements mobile and tablet interfaces. Lynda.com also has a short course on creating layer comps which can help designers accomplish a full mock up of a designs with simulated movements and progressions.

Questions to the readers:
Have you ever created a usability test?’

What are your feelings on the paper prototyping? Would you create a kit for future projects?

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8 thoughts on “Week 9: Usability Testing

  1. I have done a little bit of usability testing, a lot of it keyboard user centered or sending things to my relatives for testing.
    I think the paper prototyping has a lot of effort up front, but is beneficial in the long run if this is a step you will use for all or most of your site testing. I am not going to create a kit for this yet since my projects are small scale and can be tailored after testing during various stages of site creation. If I were to tackle larger, more stressful projects, then yes, I would consider making the paper prototypes or coming up with my own method of testing.

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  2. Omari, I have never created a usability test however, I have had friends and family use my site to see what doesn’t work. I guess that’s sort of micro testing. As far as paper prototyping goes, I think it’s too much effort for not a very good display of usability. I probably wouldn’t make a kit and just do everything digital. I think that’s more professional anyway.

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  3. Omari, I love lynda.com and will definitely check out the course you recommended. I have never created a UX test for web design/development. I’m glad to see that I was not the only one overwhelmed by the paper prototyping video. I felt like it was a lot of work and that, in this day and age, a more simplified method could be used. Allison stated in her blog post that she would create an interactive pdf via InDesign, which is the method I would most likely use. In my past web design mock-ups for our classes, I have submitted interactive pdf files so that my professors could fully see my design plans. For me, this method would be more efficient and render the desired results and feedback just as well as paper prototyping.

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    • Hey Jessica, Glad to hear that I’m not the only one here in favor of a more modern approach to producing comps. I think you’ll enjoy the lynda.com video I mentioned as its pretty short (about 20nmins) but gives a great overview on doing a mock-up design.

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  4. I wouldn’t say that social media has deterred me from buying products or using services from a company. I only follow companies that I will have coupons or giveaways online or that post when new products come out. I don’t want my social media feeds to become flooded with company information, especially if it involves a company and a customer arguing. If I’m happy with their service and their products, then I don’t particularly care about how they present themselves in social media. I have not bought a product because of negative reviews. I am more likely to be skeptical about a product if it has negative reviews. I don’t know if I would boycott the company, but I probably wouldn’t buy a specific product. And I might be more skeptical to come back to that company for another product if I’ve read bad reviews before.

    I managed a help forum online for a job once. People can be really mean online! It never really got to me though because they aren’t angry at you, and the internet is a perfect, anonymous place to voice whatever you want without having to face another human being. I always tried to be as helpful and polite as possible. And I always tried to follow up with them if I could.

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