Home > usability > Usability Testing on a Shoestring

Usability Testing on a Shoestring

A few weeks ago, Steve Krug, gave this class – Usability Testing on a Shoestring – as part of an ongoing education series for Federal Website Managers.

Instead of talking through yet another boring powerpoint presentation, Steve created a real-life example of how to do usability testing on a shoestring.

He began by recruiting a member of the online audience, and then gave the volunteer a task to perform: go to the US Mint’s website, and locate the quarters for Utah available for sale.

The challenge was that the seminar was held online, in a webinar format. Therefore, no one could see the user while he was trying to complete the task. We could, however, see his screen through the magic of screensharing.

To overcome the obstacle of not being able to see the user, Steve continually asked the user questions like:

– so, what are you thinking right now?

– is this the result you expected?

– are you having difficulty?

The last question was asked because the US Mint website seemed slow. It turned out that the US Mint’s website was experiencing heavy traffic due to some new products, according to a workshop participant who was familiar with the site.

Steve demonstrated how usability testing can be cheap, easy, low-tech, and fast. His straightforward explanations and off-the-cuff testing method gave me the feeling that usabilty testing can, in fact, be easy to do on a shoestring.

Take a look back at Jakob Nielsen’s column on www usability testing for Sun in 1995. He reports that changing the menu on Sun’s site – to be more usable – increased its use by 416% over a two month period. Given that usabilty testing can provide so much bang for the buck, its amazing that most website managers don’t seem to know, care or conduct it.

I don’t know when Steve Krug’s new book will be published, but given the excellent seminar he gave, it seems well worth every penny.

Categories: usability
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: