Usability Testing

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The user should be able to do what they need to do effectively, efficiently and satisfactorily. Usability testing plays a key role in this objective. Thinking about usability and adopting a user-centred approach should happen at every stage of the development process.

For example,

  • user-centred design can determine what features a user needs - not just what a developer thinks they might need;
  • user testing can be performed on prototypes before any code has been written, eliminating mistakes before they are implemented;
  • usability testing can be carried on the implemented system to identify issues, and produce requirements.

Usability Testing &

To what extent is usability embedded into OO development? See Nielsen's usability maturity model

  • I (User:Adam) suspect OOo is at stage 2.
  • I (Mmp) would say we are somewhere between stage 3 and 4. Sun sponsors some usability activity -- though, it is scattered between usability (testing) and user interface design. I am an interaction designer, working at Sun on OOo for 5 years. My main focus is on interaction design, but I also conduct usability tests (now and then) and I do user research in the form of site visits. -- User Experience in general is well integrated into the development processes. iTeams (like in Implementation Teams) have people from Engineering, Quality, Documentation and User Experience. They are quite agile teams to develop single features. Their deliverables are specs and child work spaces (to be integrated into the milestone). -- I often compare OOo with a skyline of mountains in haze. It is a very tough job to gain an overview of all the aspects that have an impact on the usabiltiy of the product, and to decide where to put our resources most effectively.
  • (add comments)

What can be done?

  • Develop relationships with OO development community in order to integrate usability testing into the development process;
    • Mmp: yes, we have user experience planted into the processes. Usebility (testing) in specific would improve the results.
  • 'Educate' OO developers about usability;
    • Mmp: yes, we did this for Sun's engineers, and we should continue this efforts for the entire development community. That's why we started with
  • Leverage OO user community by recruiting users for usability testing;
    • Mmp: yes, but also non OOo users. From a certain point of view the non OOo users reveal "better" insights to improve the usability.
  • Feed results back into development process.
    • Mmp: yes. Point by point and in general with e.g. presentations at OOoConferences.

What are the challenges, and how can they be overcome?

  • OOo is vast and confusing, introducing a usability culture is difficult.
    • Start with small scale pilot projects?
      • What are some candidate projects?
  • Finding out what average users want (AUW) or need, is another challenge.
    • The OOo community probably counts many members involved in training.
They could be involved to find the AUW's for various issues.
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