Saturday, May 05, 2007

Five Techniques for Getting Buy-In for Usability Testing

Getting usability testing accepted in an organization ...

"For more than seven years, I’ve been teaching and coaching design teams on how to conduct usability tests and gather user feedback early on in the development process. One of the questions that comes up time and time again from clients is, “How can we get buy-in for usability tests from management and other team members?”

Through our own research at UIE, and in our ongoing discussions with expert usability practitioners, we’ve identified several proven techniques for getting stakeholders onboard.

1. Start Testing Right Away
Start testing. Start doing it right away. We’ve found there isn’t any one experience more beneficial to design teams than running a usability test. I’m still amazed by how quickly development team members recognize the benefits of usability testing once they’ve actually seen it in action.

When I’m teaching courses on usability testing, I’ve found that no amount of lecturing about the benefits of testing gets development teams onboard and past their skepticism. Instead, people only truly comprehend the power of testing once they’ve observed a user interacting with a design.

If you’re struggling to communicate the value of testing to your management or fellow team members, stop explaining the benefits and start demonstrating them. I’ve yet to see a test where the design team fails to gather some new piece of valuable information about the users’ needs.

When development teams start watching users interact with their designs, they’ll typically see two possible outcomes, both positive. In some instances, usability tests confirm the team’s existing beliefs about how users will use their products. But, in the much more common outcome, teams observe users experiencing problems with the design and identify gaping holes in their assumptions."    (Continued via UIE and Column Two)    [Usability Resources]

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