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6493Re: [agile-usability] Re: New To Usability - Trying To Learn & Define Standards

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  • Adrian Howard
    Oct 6, 2009
      Hi Doug,

      On 5 Oct 2009, at 17:58, doug.gorman@... wrote:

      > I absolutely agree that end user feedback is almost always a better
      > driver than our own internal opinions.

      You have to be slightly careful here that this doesn't become an
      excuse for not making informed decisions about the products user
      experience in the first place.

      Good user testing isn't an excuse for bad design - with the user
      experience just as much as the code. User testing is a fantastic tool
      - and can help you discover and guide the development of the products
      user experience. But it doesn't drive good design - it informs it. You
      still need to figure out the best way to solve the problems that it

      Letting the user experience be driven by post-implementation user
      testing is a bit like having the code design be driven by post-
      implementation tests. The feedback loops are too long.

      Don't let this dissuade you from starting doing usability testing -
      but it's what you do with the results that's really important.

      > I'm curious about your thoughts on when and how to engage them.

      Like most things agile I think a little and often is the best
      approach. Doing many small usability informal tests throughout the
      development process is more effective in my experience than doing
      fewer, larger, formal ones.

      > The team here is considering "usability runahead" to get users -
      > particularly of existing products - to do some hands on with us. Are
      > there particular activities or kinds of usability testing that
      > you've found consistently identify usability issues?

      Depends what kinds of thing you're trying to do. If you're looking at
      new functionality I'd suggest looking at lo-fidelity methods like
      paper prototyping (see http://is.gd/40q4J for a few pointers) very
      early in the process to help you try out many ideas quickly. This has
      the advantage of also being enormous fun - who doesn't like to play
      with paper, scissors and glue for a few hours :-)

      If it's finding issues with existing products I'd try a couple of

      1) If possible go and work in the same place as the users for a bit
      and watch them do their work. You'll almost certainly spot some issues
      that are hard to see in a more formal user testing environment (e.g.
      do people get interrupted in the middle of tasks?)

      2) Once you've spotted a few areas that look like they can be improved
      do some informal "talk aloud" tests with the user (in the workplace
      where feasible) around those tasks. If you've not done tests like this
      before Rubin's "Handbook of Usability Testing" http://is.gd/40wGR is a
      nice starter (I've only ever read the first edition, but folk I trust
      have said the second edition is equally good.)

      > Also, are there kinds of usability testing you've done with users
      > that they've enjoyed and found to be a positive experience?

      User testing is mostly fun - but be warned. When you're poking at bits
      of a product that frustrates the user they're likely to get...
      frustrated :-) While this won't usually be aimed at you as the tester,
      especially if you frame the test appropriately, it does happen.

      Hope this helps.


      http://quietstars.com - twitter.com/adrianh - delicious.com/adrianh
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