Wednesday, August 15, 2007

OJR's 'five guide' to do-it-yourself website usability testing

Rules for doing usability testing yourself ...

"You've put months of work into a special multimedia project. The time-consuming processes of creating and editing text, audio, photos, video and animated graphics has been arduous, but rewarding. You've learned more about Flash programming and debugging than you ever intended. And now that there's an end in sight, you are more than ready to get the package online and out of your life.

Enter the spoiler -- the person who utters the words "usability test."

"Why bother?" you think. The site works, you know that. You've been showing it to your newsroom colleagues along the way. You've listened to their feedback. You've made changes you thought were necessary. What more could you learn?

What more? How about 80 percent of the problems with the package? How about architecture flaws you never considered? How about the differences between a good design and a great one?

As the article Technology's Untanglers from July 8 New York Times reports, "Sometimes there is a huge disconnect between the people who make a product and the people who use it." Usability testing is vital to uncovering the areas where these disconnects happen. Its value and power shouldn't be underestimated in the e-commerce world or in the multimedia journalism storytelling world.

But it has to be done right with a methodology that works and takes into account a journalist's tight deadlines. That's what this column is about. Today we'll provide you with a template that makes usability testing less daunting. All you need to do is:

* recruit FIVE people
* set aside FIVE hours (that's total time, start to finish)
* follow the FIVE steps described below.


It is important to realize that when done correctly, usability testing with five people can uncover 80 percent of your problems, as demonstrated in the chart below by usability guru Jakob Nielsen.

Moreover, usability testing is the difference between good design and great design. As we've said in the print world for years, if the presentation is aesthetically pleasing, but the user can't find the information, then the design is useless. This concept is even more important in the world of Web design where clicking to a new site is even easier than finding a new magazine or newspaper."    (Continued via OJR)    [Usability Resources]

Nielsen's Five People Results - Usability, User Interface Design

Nielsen's Five People Results


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