Dado Marcora and I gave a joint talk about usability testing, and finished up with a live demo of how a typical test might be run. I talked in general terms about the value of carrying out testing, and provided some ideas for a “recipe”, so that you can run your own test. Dado, a software developer at the EBI, was able to talk about his experience of running usability tests a few months ago of the new BioMart user interface he is developing.
Part 2: Designing tasks
Part 3: Reviewing the problems
I wanted to stress that usability testing is easy, and that a lot of value can be gained from the sort of discount usability testing advocated by the likes of Steve Krug and Jakob Nielsen (and those guys know what they’re talking about!). Dado was able to talk developer-to-developer.
Aim to carry out tests early on and regularly throughout development, with participants who represent your user groups. Don’t agonise over the details and minutiae of tasks – you will still be able to find problems (or show that you have solved them). Recruit users from anywhere you can get them, but remember to try and represent all your user groups.
Slides from this presentation are below. I will also create separate posts for a couple of points that I think are worth expanding on… parts 2 and 3 will appear in the next couple of days.
At the end of the talk, Dado gave a demo of a typical usability test, with Jenny Cham as the participant. This allowed us to demonstrate that recording each test could also be very useful (although not essential), and that we had experience of using an really nice, mighty little app for the Mac, called Silverback. We weren’t able to video the demo, unfortunately, but for an insight to how such a usability test might be run, you could also listen to an excellent example from Mr Steve Krug.