Friday, December 19, 2008

Quick Turnaround Usability Testing, Part II

A continuation of a previous post ...

"In Part I, I discussed how to make the first three steps of Quick Turnaround Usability Testing (QTUT)—Sales & Kickoff, Recruitment, and Preparation—as short and efficient as possible. In Part II, I discuss the final two steps: Testing and Analysis & Reporting.

Steps in the QTUT Process

* Step 1: Sales & Kickoff
* Step 2: Recruitment
* Step 3: Preparation
* Step 4: Testing
* Step 5: Analysis & Reporting


It’s testing day. You have successfully recruited enough participants for the first day, but you feel a bit of panic as you make the finishing touches before the first participant arrives. You have a rough but solid test script. You have five attentive stakeholders in the observation room ready to begin taking notes. Now you need to execute the test and you need to compile results as you go along.

Up to this point, the lack of time you had to plan and to refine your method creates a bit of a panic as you begin the testing phase. Often, we are working on the script until the very last second, incorporating changes from the stakeholders that they hand off when they arrive at our testing facility.

Early on the test day, I print out a screenshot of every important page and component (e.g., the primary navigation). I number these screenshots and then tape them above a large whiteboard that we keep in an “idea” room that is adjacent to our usability lab’s observation room. We use the whiteboard to keep track of issues and metrics across participants.

After you finish each participant session, immediately note changes that you need to make to your test script or the application. Then go talk with your stakeholders about the results. Here, the time that you have budgeted between sessions for discussion really pays off. If your stakeholders have been watching and taking notes, they are likely already talking about the results. They may also be already talking about potential fixes.

The whiteboard can be useful for focusing the discussion on issues. It’s often useful to set ground rules for the discussion. First, the discussion should focus on results and not solutions. It is important to manage your stakeholders by telling them to be patient and to let the results play out over several people before drawing conclusions. Second, as the person facilitating the study, you should lead the discussion on each topic by first summarizing your notes on the whiteboard. After we summarize a page, we ask for any additional feedback from the stakeholders and then quickly move on to the next page. Occasionally, we need to remind the stakeholders that since we have limited time between participants, we cannot dwell on any one finding."    (Continued via Boxes and Arrows, Paul Nuschke)    [Usability Resources]


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