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Usability Testing

Usability Testing

Guidelines for Sending Screenshots of Web Application and Website Pages for Usability Reviews

Status: Work in progress (what is this?)

Whether it is your clients or development team, it’s important to explicitly specify screenshot requirements rather than assuming the other party to provide screenshots in the right way. This ensures an efficient usability review that is not unnecessarily impacted by files being sent and resent all the time.

  1. Send screenshots of the full webpage. Use an application like Greenshot (freeware, IE) or FireShot (free 30 day trial) for this purpose. This enables better review of the page rather than it being reviewed as separate images.
  2. Send images in PNG format. The biggest issue that occurs when screenshots are not sent in a lossless format is that colors are not true to the actual screenshot because of lossy file compression. This reduces the accuracy of UI issues filed for color specifications.
  3. Send screenshots of web pages at a 100%. Don’t try and fit the entire length of the page in one screen because the image is and colors distort.

The most popular stuff from 2012 at ConeTrees

I wish you, my dear readers, a wonderful 2013. Here is what I wrote about and posted in 2012 which was the most popular with you all.

  1. The Difference Between a Heuristic Evaluation and an Expert Review
  2. Future Healthcare Concepts
  3. When Introducing UCD in an Organinzation, Technical Capability is Only Half the Story
  4. Karen McGrane on Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content
  5. RIP Bill Boddgride of IDEO (1943-2012)

The best content at Cone Trees for 2010

2010 has been a good year. Besides improving products through usability testing and user research at work, I gave an expert tutorial at The India HCI/ IDID 2010 conference at IIT IDC, Mumbai in March and the book I contributed to, UX Storytellers: Connecting the dots was published in November.

Most viewed content

From the Downloads section- The Usability Testing Process (diagram)
From the (new) UX Glossary section- Post-Study System Usability Questionnaire (PSSUQ)
From the Quick Posts section- Rohan Shravan on the Adam tablet featuring tech specs better than the iPad

Suggested reading

From the Blog section- My chapter in the book: UX Storytellers – Connecting the Dots
From the (new) Tutorials section- How to create active and inactive tabs in Axure
From the Blog section- The official definition(s) of Usability

My chapter in the book: UX Storytellers – Connecting the Dots

UX Storytellers book cover snap shot

As a contributing author and an industry practitioner, I am happy to see the book, UX Storytellers- Connecting the dots, finally out and it looks great. The book is a collection of forty two stories contributed by various user experience experts from around the globe, each of whom share a particular real (or based on a real) experience of theirs working in their respective areas of expertise within the UX domain. Some of my favorite authors in the book include Deborah Mayhew (author of Cost-Justifying Usability and The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook among many others ) and Aaron Marcus (author of The Cross-GUI Handbook for Multi-Platform User-Interface Design and Mobile TV: Customizing Content and Experience among others).

If you work in user experience at any level, this book will offer you some fantastic takeaways, the kinds you are lucky to get when you come across someone really experienced at a conference or even professional meet ups.

Jan Jura (@IATV) did a fantastic job of conceptualizing, coordinating and putting all of this together, which took him over a year. And judging the success of the book by the buzz in the UX community since it came out a week ago, it definitely looks like its been worth all the effort he put in.

My chapter in the book is a story which aims at helping user experience professionals understand the real challenges involved when trying to introduce User-Centered Design (UCD) techniques in your organization where your goal is to ultimately integrate UCD into your organization’s Product Development Life Cycle (PDLC). It talks about how arming ones self with technical capability is only half the story, the other half being a team’s ability to effectively deal with soft issues and successfully engage with stakeholders. I hope you will learn from it and be able to put it to good use if you come across such a situation or are already in such a (tricky) situation.

You can download or view the book online at: http://uxstorytellers.blogspot.com/2009/01/ux-storytellers-connecting-dots.html. A paid print version will follow, I’ve read quite a bit of it, and from all the value it provides, it definitely will be worth buying.

You can also read the book below. My story begins from page 412 of the Srcibd reader or page 434 of the book.

The Usability Testing Process (diagram)

The usability testing process

Chinese translation of the diagram and article (by Ryana). Russian translation of the diagram and article (by Dmitry Satin).

Download
Usability Testing Process Poster (A4 PDF) (3486 downloads)

Send me a pic: Did you put it up at work? Is it looking good? Take a pic and mail it to me or upload the pic and send me a link. I’d love to know where you’ve put it up and how it looks. You can mail me at hello at conetrees dot com

A usability test consists of the following steps:

1- Usability test planning
2.1- Participant Recruitment
2.2 Scenario & Task creation
3- Execute the usability test/ conduct usability test sessions
4- Data Analysis
5- Reporting
6- Usability test recommendation incorporation checkpoint

I will follow up with another post to explain the steps in detail, but for now, here is some detail on step 6. Step 6 is not mentioned in most generic usability testing processes, but I want to stress upon it since it is plays a good role in optimizing the usability test process.

After you report the usability test findings and recommendations, stakeholders will agree to incorporate a certain number of recommendations. After the period for incorporating usability test recommendations has passed, you should hold a checkpoint meeting for the following purpose:

  • To see how many of those suggestions agreed upon have actually been incorporated. There is no point of conducting usability test after test if recommendations (that everyone agrees will improve the usability of the product tested) are not incorporated. You don’t want to keep conducting usability tests where you come out with recommendations, stakeholders agree on incorporating some, and then everybody forgets about it. And in the next test, you come out with many of them same old ones— this is simply not a very optimal way of doing things. This checkpoint thus helps you mitigate what I think is a concern worth addressing.
  • Using data, conclude whether those suggestions did or did not improved the usability of your product (or the portion/ section you tested upon), recommendation by recommendation. In case they did, you may want to find out if there is any further scope of improvement. And in case they did not, you may want to understand what wrong assumptions were made while giving particular recommendations and learn from them so you can avoid them in similar cases in the future.
Creative Commons License
The Usability Testing Process Diagram by Abhay Rautela is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.

The only derivative work that I allow of this diagram is translation. Once you are done, let me know and I’ll link back to it.

This Was The Most Popular Content on Cone Trees in 2009

Summary
Out of the near 50 posts that were made at Cone Trees in 2009, here is a compilation of what was most popular with you, dear readers. You will also find my list of suggested readings for each section (except for the articles section, where there were only three posts I made in the year).

Top 3 Articles

Most popular

  1. Tips for effective DIY Participant Recruitment for Usability Testing
  2. Increase Conversions in Long Web Forms by Resolving the Accidental Back Button Activation Issue
  3. Guidelines for conducting Effective and Efficient Meetings

Top 3 Blog Posts

Most popular

  1. jQuery Masked Input Plugin- Increase usability, input masks for text fields
  2. A Review of the Balsamiq Mockups wireframing application
  3. Usability spotter #5- HP laptop touch pads with scroll zones- absence of tactile cue

Suggested reading

  1. Usability Spotter #6- The Twitter login page password revelation issue
  2. Web Accessibility- our responsibility as Web Industry Professionals
  3. Usability Spotter #4: A Usability issue- Google Chrome Tab selection through the mouse

Top 3 Downloads

Most popular

  1. Download Axure ‘Clear input field value on focus’ prototype/ widget library
  2. Download Axure Touch Screen Hand Gestures Stencils
  3. 15 Tips for Effective Usability Testing in India

Suggested Downloads

  1. SEO through Accessibility- How designing accessible websites leads to automatic SEO
  2. A free Minutes of Meeting (MOM) template
  3. Cone Trees Wallpaper #2- Regenerate

Top 3 ‘News & Resources’

Most popular

  1. Pranav Mistry’s “Sixth Sense”, game-changing wearable technology- a talk by Patties Maes
  2. Web Accessibility- our responsibility as Web Industry Professionals
  3. Dan Roam on “The Way of the Whiteboard: Persuading with Pictures”

Suggested Viewing

  1. Don Norman on the three ways that good design makes you happy
  2. Kim Goodwin on designing a Unified User Experience- integrating Interaction, Visual & Industrial design
  3. Barry Schwartz talks about “The Paradox of Choice- Why Less is More”

I’m presenting a tutorial at the India HCI 2010 conference, IIT Mumbai, March 21

I am pleased to let you know that my tutorial proposal for India HCI 2010 has been accepted. I will be presenting a slide based interactive lecture/ tutorial on ‘Tips for Effective Usability Testing in India’ in the morning on 21 March, Sunday at the India HCI 2010 conference and would like to invite you to attend it.

Who should attend: Usability engineers and user experience practitioners who conduct usability testing of all experience levels, though this will be especially beneficial for those who work in a organization with an nascent usability engineering. or user research team or interested in creating one.

Registration: You can register for my tutorial using the online registration form (choose T 16).

Fees: Rs. 3000.

Here is a detailed description of the tutorial at the conference website. Details about the tutorial are also given below.

India HCI 2010- tutorial 16: Tips for Effective Usability Testing in India

Duration: Half day
Schedule: Sunday, 21st March 2010, Morning
Fee: Rs. 3,000
Participants: 10-25

Aim

‘Tips for Effective Usability Testing in India’ is based upon my experience working in an agile setting in an Indian organization that is set in stage 3 of Nielsen’s Corporate Usability Maturity description. The organization I work in creates Alexa Top 200 consumer websites where I conduct field and lab-based and summative and formative usability tests on both prototypes and the released product.

Cultural differences

  1. India has a different cultural system as compared to the west. Its culture, values and language and ways of working and interfacing with people are different from those in the west. The difference is illustrated through Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions.
  2. No book written on usability testing in India- All of the popular books on usability testing are written by western counterparts and understandably so, these are written in context of western users.

Organization differences

  1. As an industry member, I would estimate that the vast majority of Indian organizations are between stages 1 to 4 of Nielsen’s Corporate Usability Maturity description.
  2. At a stage where usability testing is not formally integrated into the product development lifecycle, technical capability is only half the contributing factor to successfully establishing the usability practice as an essential organ of the company. The ability to engage with stakeholders in a way that they continually offer support to the usability initiative is the other half contributing factor to maturing the usability practice within the organization. It is therefore necessary that technical knowledge has to be supplemented by the addressing of ‘soft’ issues that to tackle organization bottlenecks in order to successfully execute usability testing so that value may be derived from it that is recognizable by stakeholders.

Content

Specific to usability testing in India, the tutorial in particular talks about various practical tips dealing with usability test moderation to avoid introduction of bias that may occur because of the PDI dimension (moderator-participant) of Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions.

Usability testing can only take place if concerned stakeholders realize its value and see it as an integral part of the SDLC. They ultimately hold the key to deciding how much of a role will usability testing play in the SDLC. Since Indian organizations have a different way of working from MNC’s and foreign firms, the other half of the tutorial will talk about how to work towards successfully demonstrating the value of usability testing into Indian organizations (set in stages 2 to 4 or Nielsen’s Corporate Usability Maturity description). It will talk about what challenges may be faced, what mistakes should one avoid, about why business cases and generic deliverable templates don’t work, how to deal with time and budget constraints, and how to deal with attitudes and successfully connect with stakeholders.

Please go through my presentation: Tips for Effective Usability Testing in India (slide 13 onwards) to get a brief idea of what the presentation will contain which will not be limited to the content in this presentation.

Who should attend?

Usability engineers and any user experience practitioners who conduct usability testing of all experience levels.

A short biography of the tutor

Abhay Rautela works as Senior Human Factors Engineer at a leading internet services company in Noida and is responsible for planning, execution and oversight of user research and usability evaluation across projects that mostly include Alexa Top 200 websites. He has conducted formative and summative usability evaluations on low (paper) to high fidelity prototypes and the actual product in all phases of the SDLC. He has also authored usability testing deliverable templates and guidelines and has defined an optimized usability testing process to streamline the usability testing process in his current organization, in addition to authoring other user research deliverable templates.

Abhay has a BA (hons) Multimedia Arts degree with specialization in usability and accessibility from Middlesex University, UK in which he was batch topper. He has around 5 years of experience working in different areas of user experience, most of it being focused on interaction design and usability evaluations and user research. He has conducted trainings in the past on accessibility, streamlining the usability testing process and card sorting at Sapient (a leading international IT consultancy) and InfoEdge (a leading Indian internet services company) in addition to presenting at Bar Camp on usability testing in India.

Abhay has also recently been requested to contribute a chapter for a book on user experience which includes other known contributors who have authored and co-authored UX books. Abhay runs a website on usability engineering that is featured in AllTop along with other authoritative websites on user experience. His articles, posts, UI prototyping libraries and website visual design have been published, featured, included, pointed and showcased in Usability News (BCSCHI), Wireframes magazine, Evolt, Axure prototyping application website, SlideShare front page, Business Week’s Business Exchange and WaSP Interact among other places (links here).

He also runs two websites (that are slowly gaining popularity) for the User Experience community- The UX Bookmark and UX Quotes which he conceptualized, designed and now curates content on. In the past, he was manager of FlashMove, Singapore (world’s first Flash special user group) and presently heads The New Delhi UX Book Club and the SlideShare Web Accessibility group.