Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Morae Interview: Russ Wilson

Usability testing interview with Russ Wilson ...

Russ Wilson is the vice president of product design at NetQoS. He writes about design and usability at Dexo Design blog. In this interview, Russ tells how usability testing and Morae help NetQoS design excellent products...and shares some ideas for doing usability testing on the cheap at conferences!

Tell me a bit about NetQoS—what products do you make and how does usability testing make them better?

Russ WilsonNetQoS makes network performance management products. We have been on Inc. Magazine’s fastest growing companies list for several years. Our products help many of the largest organizations in the world manage their mission critical networks, applications, and servers.

Downtime in any of these networks can result in large losses, and therefore products that are quick, intuitive, reliable and very easy to use are of the utmost importance. The usability testing we do helps us to zero in on exactly what our users need from our products. We look closely at workflow and typical usage because in these environments troubleshooting as quickly as possible is necessary.

... How do you use Morae and UserVue in designing NetQoS products?

We currently use Morae for all of our usability testing. We test:

1. all new employees—we sit them in front of a computer with Morae running and record everything they do as they attempt to accomplish several predefined tasks. We focus primarily on larger stumbling blocks in these tests.

2. users and prospects—similar to the first scenario but with much more attention paid to the details and more interaction with the participant to really understand what they are thinking, where they are confused, etc. All of this interaction is captured by Morae for later review. We also measure # of clicks, time on task, success rates, etc., all with Morae. And now we’re using Morae’s System Usability Scale as well (great addition by the way).

3. users at conferences—more about that below.

4. users at several NetQoS customer events like our Symposium and account management workshops.

5. users in their own environment through observation with Morae as a recorder to catch all for later critical analysis. This is rare, though. Installing software in a customer’s environment is not something we commonly do.

In each of these scenarios, we take Morae recordings and review them to find awkward points for users and patterns of awkward points. We use the measurements (# of clicks, time on task, etc.) to drive our goals and help us to focus our design efforts—e.g. we may set a goal to reduce the time to determine where a network problem is occurring from 6 minutes on average to 3 minutes on average. Without a tool to measure these things we would not be able to set goals like this.

We are evaluating UserVue but haven’t actually used it yet."    (Continued via Usability News, TechSmith)    [Usability Resources]

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