What to test
symbols, buttons, and icons
consistency/match with user's task
mining the logs
Heuristics of usability testing
descriptive, not prescriptive
flexible and pragmatic
MYTH: Design is a luxury.
MYTH: Developing a customer solution is just conceptually and
logistically too big to tackle; people working at the solution level will
get bogged down in unmanageable issues. You should develop the product as
a set of components, and then organize your development team to mimic the
MYTH: User interface design responsibility is best distributed within
components. Each implementer designs the user interface for his module.
MYTH: Software companies generally assign usability a high priority.
MYTH: Usability and functionality have separate requirements.
MYTH: Users should design user interfaces. Designers should avoid
making decisions on behalf of the user -- users know best what they need.
The best thing we could do is give them a blank sheet of paper and get out
of their way.
MYTH: Design teams should include a customer. This is a shortcut to
getting user input, and it allows you to skip the messy business of
MYTH: Eliminate alternatives ASAP. Designers should not waste time
exploring alternative approaches, but should stick with one unless it
collapses under its own weight -- and only then explore a new approach.
MYTH: Innovative design is better design. Users prefer software that
has creative new methods of presentation.
MYTH: Good user interface developers can both design and code the
MYTH: User feedback speaks for itself; it does not require
interpretation. If one or two users dislike a feature of the design,
change it. If one or two users dislike the new design, change it again.
So what to do?
- How extensive should usability testing be: small sample sizes,
heuristics, statistical methods? Should it be formal/systematic or informal?
- Is usability important? Are companies paying attention to it?
Is it outdated? Should it be done more/less/more frequently?
How much testing is needed before a web team can feel confident that a
site will work for the vast majority of users?
- What do you think about automatic/automated usability testing for web
sites; what would the future hold for it? What kinds of test performed
- Should you use guidelines? Which guidelines?
- What would you recommend to your clients?