It’s A Long Long Journey
Usability Test in UX Design
This is a summary of Chapter 11 — Usability Test of this book “Observing the User Experience” by Elizabeth Goodman, Mike Kuniavsky and Andrea Moed.
This chapter explained what the goals and meanings of usability test are, why it is important; what is usability test, when to conduct a usability test, how to conduct a usability test and how to analyze the results.
There are three goals set for a usability test; researchers are meant to identify the usability problems of a certain product, collect qualitative data, and determine participants satisfaction with the products. There are four main types of usability test according to the context. The first, “Exploratory,” which aimed at testing the preliminary concepts of a product and evaluate the or promises. The second, “Assessment,” which emphasizes to test features during implementation. The third kind, “Comparison,” which as said it is to assess one design against another between similar products. The last, “Validation,” which meant to certify features meet certain standards and benchmarks late in the development process. (P274)
To implement a usability test, it generally involves four steps of preparation. To begin with, a usability test of a product should correspond to its development status; it could be during the iterative testing please of design if the product is in an early, unfinished version. Also, a usability test could serve as a final test that happens to a near-end stage of its development. Even after a project is in releasing, a usability test could further help with directing the next phase of design. As this context suggested:
“Usability testing is most effective in the early to middle stage of development, before a feature is locked in and its interaction with other creatures is set. (P274)”
The second step is about recruiting evaluators, similar to conducting interviews with people. Recruiting evaluators for a usability test also includes defining the audience pool, screening candidates, contacting participants for schedules, etc.
“The best people to invite are those who are going to need the service you are providing in the near future or who have used a competing service ion the recent past. (P277)”
Then, researchers shall start choosing the features of the products and design some benchmark tasks for each feature. To have some references, features could be drawn from those which are “used often,” “new,” “highly publicized,” “considered troublesome,” ”potentially dangerous,” ”considered important,” etc. (Please refer to the book for more.) each of the chosen features and tasks should come with a clear vision of what is about, and also meaningful purposes, of why should it be tested? There are a few things pointed by the context regarding how to create tasks. To name a few, tasks shall be “described in terms of end goals,” which by phrase tasks as something related to the evaluators’ life, so that allowing evaluators to perform more realistically. “Domain neutral,” which implies that “the ideal tasks are something that everyone who tests the interface knows something about, but no one knows too much.” “A reasonable length,” which as suggested in this chapter, a task on average is about 12 mins to complete.
After defining who (shall be the evaluators), what ( features shall be tested) and how (of what tasks shall evaluators carry out.) It is time to phrase a script for use when implementing the usability test. The construction of the script, as suggested contains three parts: an “Introduction” with a “preliminary interview,” “the tasks guild,” and a “wrap-up.” The introduction shall present what is this test all about, something about the products and the researchers, procedures, and a statement of consent. Note taught, the preliminary interview is designed to investigate people’s background and habits, and it is carried out by asking some general questions that could also warm up the atmosphere. The task, also named as the “evaluation instruction” is the central part of a usability test, which shall introduce people about the task, and followed with some probe questions that researchers could ask when the tasks are in processing. “With the tasks complete, a wrap-up comes in to close the interview and promote a bit more discussions with the evaluators. Also, it should also deliver the thankfulness to the evaluators for being in the usability test.
Additionally, there are several things should be taken into account before the actual usability test starts. First, the place, it is suggested that “the test site should resemble the kind of space where people will use your product. (296)” second, be sure all the types of equipment are ready, such as video camera, microphones, etc. Also, if a usability test involves many researchers to gather, there should be proper staff management applied to ensure the usability test process goes successfully.
Yes, time to conduct the actual usability test with the evaluators.
“Moderating a usability test is a skill !!!”
Highlighted by this text and also by my professor. Moderation is rather significant to a usability test. You don’t want to ruin the test experience, therefore, be sure to respect participants’ right, and their physical, emotional comfort. Avoid bias, keep the interview task-centered, ask “why,” give help if needed, probe nonverbal cues, minimize interruptions, etc. In a word, moderating a usability test is a skill, be cautious.
Finally, as to analyze the usability test results, there are three phases to consider. “Collecting observations,” “organizing observations,” and “Extracting trends.” To collect observations, it takes a long time, therefore also made it the most crucial step in the results analysis. It is about to note down all situations of mistakes, confusions, opinions of evaluators’. Also, measure the task completion in a range, etc.
E.g., the measurement range (Metrics) for task completion:
1: Succeed very slowly in a roundabout way.
2: Succeed a little slowly.
3: Succeed quickly.
To organize observations, it is suggested to look for reputed concerns as well as issues that (may) imply underlying problems. Group the similarities, find the causes, organize them in files. Last but not least, to extract trends one shall try to categories problems in short sentences, explain the cause, focusing on describing issues. The context suggests to be careful with coming up solutions, and suggestions shall be referential and constructive but not about “what must be done. (317)”
Lastly, as to form a report, I personally found one thing to note, which is “Don’t present an entirely negative report.” The report shall focus on real people and be constructive, also as suggested the report is not only for reporting problems, but also celebrate successes, if any.
For more, please read this book, the topic of “Usability Test” is in chapter 11.
Thank you for reading, hope my poor writing didn’t bother you that much. I am doing a 30 days writing challenge, I gotta keep practicing writing. I will try my best to do better! Have a wonderful day, my friend:)