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How DialogDesign Tests

A usability test reveals important problems that users might experience when interacting with a computer or a product. The resulting test report describes these problems and offers recommendations for correcting them.

DialogDesign’s step-by-step approach to usability testing is shown below. To ensure optimum quality, our approach conforms to the Danish standard rules for usability testing:

1.   Present the product

You (the client) present the product to DialogDesign and explain your goals for the usability test. DialogDesign points out any potentially critical usability problems in the product, which you may decide to correct ahead of the test.

2.   Recruit typical users

Together with you, we determine precise criteria for the target group - that is, the typical users who will be test participants.

DialogDesign recruits test participants and pays all the expenses associated with them, including honorarium or gifts and transportation costs.

DialogDesign guarantees that the agreed number of test sessions will be conducted even if a test participant cancels on short notice. DialogDesing usually ensures this by planning one more test session than agreed upon.

3.   Determine representative test tasks

Based on a task analysis, DialogDesign proposes a set of test tasks that you comment on and approve.

4.   Conduct a “think aloud” test session for each test participant

During a test session, test participants perform test tasks under an experienced facilitator’s supervision. Each test session lasts 30 to 90 minutes (usually about 90 minutes); we typically conduct three or four test sessions per day, possibly with a break to correct obvious usability problems. Test sessions generally occur between 08.30 and 19.00 (7.00 pm) to make it as easy as possible for interested stakeholders to observe the sessions.

DialogDesign recommends that test sessions take place at your location; ordinary meeting rooms are suitable for testing. DialogDesign can provide video equipment that makes it possible to observe the test sessions from a neighboring room. Observers aren’t permitted in the room where the test session takes place.

Each test session includes

      a brief interview about the test participant’s background,

      a brief interview about the test participant’s knowledge of the target area, prior experience with the product or similar products, and his/her expectations,

      solution of typical tasks using the product, and

      an interview focusing on the test participant’s perception of the product after having used it (“debriefing”).

5.   Conduct a consensus-building session

A consensus-building session is a brainstorm in which stakeholders discuss the observations they made in the test sessions. Only stakeholders who have observed at least one test session are admitted, further stressing that usability is about observed user behavior rather than opinions about what users do.

The consensus-building session helps stakeholders attain a common attitude toward usability problems and is usually conducted immediately after the last test session. It thus serves to communicate an overview of the most serious problems so that corrections can occur quickly without having to wait for a formal test report.

6.   Write a report in a standard format

The test report describes the positive findings and problems the test uncovered. It also includes constructive recommendations for solving the problems based both on what test participants suggested and on DialogDesign’s extensive experience from previous tests.

See a sample test report in DialogDesign’s standard format.





Read More

·      How DialogDesign tests

·      Usability test coaching

·      Sample test report from DialogDesign

 


Test of Prototype

You can get early feedback on a product’s usability before you invest much in its development.

You do this by usability testing an early version that only exists on paper, a so-called paper prototype.

Paper prototypes are cheap – and therefore easy to discard if they show that the design causes serious usability problems.

The computer simulator (the person to the right) displays a screen on paper to the test participant (to the left). When the test participant decides to click on, for example, the Search button, the computer simulator locates the corresponding screen from memory - that is, the pile in front of him. This picture is taken from the book Usable Web Design.

The Nielsen Norman Group sells a DVD on how to test paper prototypes of websites, mobile telephone systems, and so forth. We highly recommend it!

DialogDesign also offers two-to-three-day workshops in which we will develop a paper prototype of your new system. The prototype is also tested with typical users in two design cycles.

 



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