Posted by: Arild | January 13, 2010

User testing in Oslo

I just joined a new project in Oslo as “the GUI guy”. It feels great to be able to focus more on usability and user interface design, and less on technical implementation. 🙂 That being said, the technology is also quite interesting, and I’ll probably be doing more development as the user interface matures.

I proposed low scale usability testing at the end of each sprint to let the users go through the user stories implemented during the sprint to verify that they work well and satisfy the needs of the end users. I was very happy when the project management jumped on the idea and gave me a green light to do user testing with a few end users.

Usability experts such as Jacob Nielsen (Useit.com) and Steve Krug (author of “Don’t make me think“) argue that 3-5 users are sufficient to find most of the major flaws in a user interface. Hopefully I’ll get at least 3, maybe 4 users to participate in the testing. By doing the testing after each sprint we can test only a small part of the system at a time, so the tests will be short (around 10-15 minutes per person). This will allow the users to give us direct feedback eary in the project, so that we can address the issues during next sprint. Hopefully, this will give the users a greater sense of ownership and involvement in the project.

During the first sprints the testing will be done very low tech, with one observer and one test-computer. In the later sprints we may decide to use screen sharing software. a microphone and a web-cam to allow the other team members to obsere the user’s actions as well as facial expressions. Steve Krug argues that this kind of “live” testing is a quick and effective way to do the testing as most major flaws will be very apparent, and the team gets a greater understanding of some of the main issues.

Recording the screen, the user and the audio for later playback is a lot more demanding and takes a lot longer than doing it “on-the-fly”, so we’ll go for the budget approach this time. 🙂

I’ll keep you posted on the design and results of the tests as soon as I have something interesting to share.

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Responses

  1. Great to see you’re making a difference on you project. I’m looking forward to future posts to see how this works out 🙂

  2. Cool!

    I feel I have a GUI-guy in as well, so I hope you can use this is some sort of talk at the office this spring so I can pick up some tricks.

    How is it going with the Role/Right-talk you were working on before the robbery? Did you loose all the code? I have asked for a sandbox-TFS-server at the office now, so hopefully we can get it running soon at use it to store demo projects like that. Another option is of course Google Code or GitHub.


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