Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Beware of the usability Stockholm syndrome

Beware of empathetic subjects in usability studies ...

"The only way they to know if an application works well for users is to conduct usability testing. A usability test does not need to be expensive like having a laboratory where cameras are mounted in every angle and viewers are on the other side of a one-way mirror looking at monitors that track the users eye movements and heartbeat.

A usability test can be as simple as grabbing the next person that passes by the hallway. You don’t even need a hundred people; five people is enough.

We conduct usability tests because we know that someone with a set of fresh eyes will find more problems in the application than someone who has been looking at the user interface everyday for the past 189 days. When we ask people to participate in our usability tests, we expect them to be super-critical of our software. We tell them we’re evaluating the software, not the person. It is absolutely OK if they tell us that the “interface sucks” or “I felt dizzy after looking at this page. I think I’m gonna puke.”

But as experienced by Jensen Harris, a Microsoft programmer working on the Office software, people tend to become less critical during usability testing as if they are suffering the Stockholm syndrome — a case where the hostage becomes sympathetic with its captors. Why does it happen?"    (Continued via MicroISV Notebook)    [Usability Resources]

Friendly Usability Testing Subject - Usability, User Interface Design

Friendly Usability Testing Subject

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