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Testing: Part Three of the Toolbox

toolboxEvery usability plan should include some actual usability testing. If you want a great site, you need to do some testing. After you have worked on a site, you can't see it freshly anymore. Testing will remind you that not everyone thinks or uses the web in the same way.

In usability testing, representative users work on typical tasks using the web site (or a prototype) and the evaluators use the results to see how the user interface supports the users in doing their tasks.

Testing does have limitations.

The Five Steps of Testing

  1. Develop the Test Plan
  2. Select Participants
  3. Prepare the test materials
  4. Conduct the test
  5. Make use of the test results

1. Develop the Test Plan

Sample Format of a Formal Plan

2. Select Participants

Number of Test Participants

Selecting Test Participants

3. Prepare the test materials

Develop a task scenario questionnaire

  1. First develop a list of tasks you want users to perform.
  2. Then translate those tasks into scenarios for the questionnaire.

Task scenarios are representations of actual work that a user would likely perform using your web site. You use task scenarios to tell the participants what you want them to do. A good task scenario:

Try the scenarios tasks out yourself and refine them as needed.

Example: Task Scenario from ITSS web site evaluation 3

4. Conduct the test

5. Make use of the test results

In formal usability testing, data and findings would be transformed into recommendations by way of a written report and/or presentation. It would include methodology, user profile, task list and results. But to make your site more usable a report isn't necessary. What you need to do is:

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