Usability Testing

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Application and software usability is an increasingly important part of software design and development which means that usability testing is now also an important part of any testing plan of activities. Usability testing is distinctly different from functional or nonfunctional testing conceptually, uses different types of test methods as well as different evaluation metrics. This course is intended to introduce software testers into the theory and practices of usability testing. The course begins with an analysis of what usability is, how it relates to software quality, the problem of defining metrics for usability testing and the business case for effective usability testing. The standard types of usability are discussed as well as using software quality techniques and concepts to identify what usability means within a specific testing plan and how we define what sort of test metrics and criteria will be used. The different types of usability are covered which an integrated usability test plan should include. The problem of developing usability criteria is examined in detail by understanding how testers work with requirements analysts to understand what usability means to the user population. Various population analytic techniques are discussed, such as demographic/psychographic segmentation, cross cultural concerns and the construction or representative personas, which are all used to develop usability evaluation criteria for testing. A number of different test methodologies are introduced including focus groups, surveys, early prototyping, walkthroughs, task evaluations and guided explorations. For each of the techniques, the basic procedure is outlined along with suggested best practices and possible pitfalls to avoid. The process of developing a test plan, test methodology and test criteria are discussed as well as how test results are evaluated and communicated to developers and other stakeholders. The topic of “User Experience” or Ux is introduced and students are shown how those topics integrate with the usability testing concepts and techniques discussed in class. The course conclude with a look ahead at emerging issues in man machine interactions such as natural language interfaces, physical interactions via robotics and the internet of things, and adaptive interfaces that modify themselves in response to different users.

The course has no prerequisites however a working knowledge of testing concepts and ideas is recommended.

2 Days/Lecture & Lab

The course is intended for software testers and test mangers and anyone else involved in working with usability design or testing.

  • Introduction to Usability
  • Types of Usability
  • Usability and Requirements I
  • Usability and Requirements II
  • Basic Usability Test Methods I
  • Basic Usability Test Methods II
  • Planning the Testing
  • Test Materials
  • Ux – The User Experience
  • Reporting
  • Looking ahead


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