Foundations of Usability Testing for IT professionals

What is usability testing?

In a usability study, typical users try to do typical tasks with a product within the expected use environment. The participant (user), should match the profile of the target audience for that product, and complete each task on their own without assistance. The goal of the study is to see whether the product's design “speaks” to the participant, allows them to complete their tasks without error or excessive effort, meets the participant’s expectations, and lastly that it fits into their workflow. The moderator interacts with the participant as little as possible and keeps the session on track. Observers watch the participant as they work from an adjoining room and keeps score of a task's successes and failures. They also take notes on the things the user says as they interact with the product, and their body language. Any interactive product, from a mobile app to a voice-command system to a vacuum cleaner can be usability tested.

What are the benefits of usability testing?

Running in-person, well-designed, objective, and properly executed studies is the most effective way of learning how well your product performs in real-world circumstances. You and your team can validate whether your target audience understands your product and how they best interact with it. You can expect to uncover how to best refine the product's design to make the interaction as fluid and intuitive as possible while reducing user errors and frustrations. You save money and time by identifying and fixing design issues early in the product's development, which could otherwise result in costly reworking and customer service calls. Usability testing gives you the chance to learn more about your end-user’s needs as they relate to the product as well as how well your product stacks up against the competition. Above all, by integrating usability testing into your development process, you can expect to increase your user's acceptance, which can increase sales and improve your organization’s overall reputation for quality.

What can I expect to get out of this presentation?

While the concept of a usability study seems simple, it takes skill to design, execute and interpret the results. This interactive webinar will introduce you to the usability testing methods and the areas you need to master in order to produce reliable and actionable results. 

We discuss:

  • what is a usability study?
  • reasons to run a usability study
  • users’ mental models
  • types of products that can be usability tested
  • techniques for identifying the most appropriate participants
  • usability task list
  • data collection and analysis

Your Usability/User Experience SME is Kay Corry Aubrey. Kay is a usability consultant and trainer who shows her customers how to make their products more easily understandable to ordinary people. Kay’s clients have included: The Broad Institute, Abt Associates, Oracle, Massachusetts Medical Society, iRobot, Reebok/BOKS, and Raytheon. Kay also lectures on usability and design in healthcare for Northeastern University. She is a Feature Editor for the QRCA VIEWS magazine and a RIVA-certified Master Moderator.

Should you wish to delve deeper into usability testing, Kay will be teaching the following upcoming courses:

Foundations of Usability Testing for IT Professionals