Monday, September 27, 2004

User Observation Testing is Mandatory


Without UOT, you know next to nothing. Posted by Hello

User Observation Testing =

skillfully watching
representative users
interact with your web site
to obtain information
or to perform a task.

Of Very Limited Value:

* user surveys--they tell you what they
think you want to hear. They don't want
to hurt your feelings.

* feedback forms/emails--usually these
contain angry complaints or superficial,
emotionally based compliments.

* opinions of upper management--they
tend to see the web site according to
how it achieves corporate goals and
conveys the corporate mission and "look."

* opinions of co-workers--they pat you
on the back or enviously attack.

* opinions of friends & family--you know
they often praise or criticize depending
on mood, or how you last treated them.

* judgment by the web designers--they
want to say the web site is usable so
they look good, but designers are not
typical users of a web site.

Input from all the above sources is not
totally worthless, but still--you need more.

You need to test typical, average users,
who will actually be using the web site.

FOR EXAMPLE:

A web site selling cell phones must test
actual cell phone users, or those who are
planning to buy a cell phone.

USER OBSERVATION TESTING

Observe--do not assist them.

Take notes--write down their behavior
and comments. Link paths they use.

Interpret results--from perspective of
professional web usability analyst.

Report results and prioritized
recommendations to management--the hardest part.

Help implementation of enhancements--
this also requires web usability and design expertise.

User Observation Testing--
don't assume your web site is
easy for users to rapidly
accomplish what they need to do.

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