Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Practical Usability Testing

Getting the most from usability testing...

"When I started this column, part of my motivation was to write about tools to empower Web designers—techniques they could take away and apply immediately. I’ve written an article on how information architecture can be a natural progression from Web design and two articles containing short lessons to help new information architects be more effective on the job. My next several articles will focus on core information architecture practices and how Web designers and new information architects can use them effectively. I’ll focus on practical tips and keep the theory to a minimum.

The first article in this series is on one of my favorite practices: usability testing. The most critical aspect of user-centered design, usability testing breaks down the wall between the designer and user, and allows us to see how real users do real tasks in the real world. There are many benefits of usability testing, including uncovering pitfalls in a current system before a redesign and evaluating the usability of a system during and after design. Usability testing should be an iterative practice, completed several times during the design and development life-cycle. The end result is an improved product and a better understanding of the users that we’re designing for.
Planning a Test

Usability testing should be an iterative practice, completed several times during the design and development life-cycle. The end result is an improved product and a better understanding of the users that we’re designing for.

The first thing to know about planning a usability test is that every test is different in scope, and results will vary a lot depending on the purpose and context of the test. Testing a single new feature will look very different from testing several key scenarios in a new site."   continued ...   (Via Digital Web)

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