Friday, September 14, 2007

Usability Tests with 30 Observers

Setting up a 30 person usability test ...

"Often times, the clients we’re working with have never conducted a usability test before. Since it’s not part of the regular process, almost no one in the organization has been exposed to watching users.

We’ve found it’s critical to the adoption of testing in the organization for people to quickly see the benefits. We’ve also found there’s no better way to show the benefits of testing than to observe a test firsthand.

Because there’s a large number of design agents and stake holders involved and often a small number of available tests to observe, we can find ourselves in a situation where we need to have many observers in one session. It’s not unusual to have 30 or more observers sitting in a single usability test. Here’s how we pull it off.
First, get a large room

We love training rooms. They work really well. (We’re not a big fan of usability labs — they distract and hurt more than they help, in our opinion.)

You want a room where you can set up the seats for the observers, a projector, an audio system, and a small station for the participant and facilitator.

Often, we’ll set up the room to look like this: (Thanks to Dana Chisnell for supplying this image from the upcoming revision to the Handbook of Usability Testing.)

The participant and session facilitator will sit up front. The user (and, if you can get a mixer, the facilitator) will have a mic, which plugs into the speakers, so everyone can hear what the participant says (or even mumbles).

We project the participant’s screen onto the large screen so all the observers can watch what the user is doing.

(If you want to get super fancy, you can put a video camera plugged into a monitor below the projected screen to see the user’s expressions. We don’t do this because we rarely find it adds anything for the extra effort and stress on the user’s part. If you do decide to use it, don’t do a picture-in-picture display on the big screen — in inevitably obscures an important part of the interface.)"    (Continued via UIE Brain Sparks)    [Usability Resources]

30 Observer Test Room - Usability, User Interface Design

30 Observer Test Room

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