Usability Testing Essentials

Usability Testing Essentials, 1st Edition

Ready, Set...Test!

Usability Testing Essentials, 1st Edition,Carol Barnum,ISBN9780123750921


Morgan Kaufmann




235 X 191

Usability testing is as easy as 1-2-3 with this comprehensive and practical toolkit!

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Key Features

  • Provides a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to usability testing, a crucial part of every product’s development
  • The fully updated four-color edition now features important usability issues such as international testing, persona creation, remote testing, and accessibility
  • Follow-up to Usability Testing and Research (9780205315192, Longman, 2001), winner of the highest-level award from the Society for Technical Communication


Usability Testing Essentials provides readers with the tools and techniques needed to begin usability testing or to advance their knowledge in this area. The book begins by presenting the essentials of usability testing, which include focusing on the user and not the product; knowing when to conduct small or large studies; and thinking of usability as hill climbing. It then reviews testing options and places usability testing into the context of a user-centered design (UCD). It goes on to discuss the planning, preparation, and implementation of a usability test. The remaining chapters cover the analysis and reporting of usability test findings, and the unique aspects of international usability testing. This book will be useful to anyone else involved in the development or support of any type of product, such as software or web developers, engineers, interaction designers, information architects, technical communicators, visual or graphic designers, trainers, user-assistance specialists, and instructional technologists.


Usability specialists, user experience researchers, usability analysts, information architects, interaction designers, human factors engineers (analyst, specialist, manager), software/web developers, quality assurance personnel, students in industrial design, HCI, information technology, psychology, computer science, technical communication.

Carol Barnum

Carol teaches a graduate course in usability testing and also works with clients on projects ranging from software, hardware, web applications, web sites, e-learning, and training products. Barnum is well-known internationally, having keynoted and presented at numerous national and international conferences. Her presentation at the first European Usability Professionals conference in London, in conjunction with British HCI, won the "best presenter" award at the conference. She was invited to be interviewed for the UX Pioneers web site (www.uxpioneers.com), among such luminaries as Jakob Nielsen, John Carrol, Ginny Redish, Ben Shneiderman, and Alan Cooper. She was also recently named one of the "Top 20 Women Professors in Georgia."

Affiliations and Expertise

Director and co-founder of the Usability Center at Southern Polytechnic, Graduate Program Director for MS in Information Design and Communication Program, author of six books and numerous articles on usability, technical communication and related fields

Usability Testing Essentials, 1st Edition

Foreword Acknowledgments About the author Image credits and permissions Introduction: Getting started guide Usability is invisible U R usability How to use this book Special features you can use or skip A few words about words But wait, there’s more on the companion website 1 Establishing the essentials Focus on the user, not the product Start with some essential definitions Defining usability Defining usability testing Know when to conduct small studies Know how to conduct small studies Define the user profile Create task-based scenarios Use a think-aloud process Make changes and test again Know when to conduct large studies Think of usability testing as hill climbing 2 Testing here, there, everywhere Testing in a lab offers some benefits The bare essentials for testing in a lab Other equipment that’s nice to have Specialized equipment you might need in certain situations Formal labs can cost a lot, or not Informal labs can be set up anywhere at very little cost Field testing gets you into the world of your users Advantages of field testing Disadvantages of field testing Remote testing extends your reach to your users Moderated remote testing is synchronous Unmoderated remote testing is asynchronous New methods push the envelope on remote testing Choosing the right method is a balancing act 3 Big U and little u usability Introducing big U and little u usability Using a user-centered design process Opening your toolkit and seeing what’s there Analysis tools Development tools Post-release tools Choosing heuristic evaluation from the toolkit Conducting a heuristic evaluation Conducting a formal evaluation Conducting an expert review Conducting an informal evaluation Comparing the results from heuristic evaluation and usability testing Putting both methods together: The 1-2 punch Cost-justifying usability Case Study: Heuristic evaluation of Holiday Inn China website 4 Understanding users and their goals People are goal-oriented When people use the web, they bring their experience and expectations People expect web objects to be in specific places People don’t want to read - they want to act Make a good first impression - you might not get a second chance Generational differences matter when it comes to the web Personas help you get to know your users Personas are based on real information about real users Personas are a creative activity, but don’t get carried away Personas should be a manageable number Personas need to be visible Scenarios tell the story of your users’ goals Start by knowing the difference between a task and a goal Tell stories about your personas in a compelling way 5 Planning for usability testing Scheduling the planning meeting Establish test goals Determine how to test the product Agree on user subgroups Determine participant incentive Draft the screener for recruiting participants Create scenarios based on tasks that match test goals Determine quantitative and qualitative feedback methods Set dates for testing and deliverables Writing the test plan Writing an informal test plan Writing a formal test plan Case Study: Test plan for Holiday Inn China website usability study 6 Preparing for usability testing Recruiting participants How to do the recruiting yourself How to recruit through an agency How to plan for no-shows Assigning team roles and responsibilities Developing team checklists Writing the moderator’s script Preparing or using other forms Preparing a video consent form Preparing a special consent form for testing with minors Using a non-disclosure agreement Preparing an observer form Creating questionnaires Creating a pre-test questionnaire Creating post-task questionnaires Creating a post-test questionnaire Using standard post-test questionnaires Using the SUS Using the CSUQ Creating or using qualitative feedback methods Using product reaction cards Ending with an interview Testing the test Conducting the walkthrough Conducting the pilot Case Study: Sample test materials for Holiday Inn China website usability study 7 Conducting a usability test Setting up for testing Meeting, greeting, briefing Meeting and greeting the participant Conducting the pre-test briefing Preparing the participant to think out loud Being an effective and unbiased moderator Monitor your body language Balance your praise Ask “good” questions Know how and when to intervene Administer post-test feedback mechanisms Managing variations on the theme of testing Testing with two or more participants Testing with two or more moderators Testing remotely with a moderator Providing help or customer support during testing Logging observations Handling observers and visitors Observers with you and the participant Visitors in the executive viewing room Remote observers Working solo Case Study: Session log from Holiday Inn China website usability study 8 Analyzing the findings What did we see? Gather input from everyone Collect the top fi ndings and surprises Choose your organizational method What does it mean? Determining who should do the analysis Collating the findings Presenting quantitative data Working with statistics Analyzing questionnaires Using qualitative feedback from the think-aloud process Collating responses from the product reaction cards What should we do about it? Triangulating the data from findings Characterizing fi ndings by scope and severity Making recommendations Case Study: Findings analysis from Holiday Inn China website usability study 9 Reporting the findings Following Aristotle’s advice Preparing the message for the medium Writing an informal memo report Writing a formal report Preparing the parts of a formal report Writing the executive summary Organizing the rest of the report to match your audience needs Presenting the findings Using tables to summarize the findings Illustrating the findings Ordering the findings Presenting post-task and post-test results Presenting survey responses Presenting SUS results Presenting qualitative responses Making recommendations Presenting an oral report Plan your presentation Prepare video clips Practice, practice, practice Deliver your presentation Know how and when to ask for questions Advocating for more UCD Case Study: Report of Holiday Inn China website usability study 10 International usability testing Learning about your international users Some international users are here Other international users are “there” Understanding cultural differences Books to learn more Articles to learn more Applying the work of Hall and Hofstede to understand international users Hall’s concept of high-context and low-context cultures Hofstede’s concept of five cultural dimensions Planning for international testing Where to test How to test Structuring the test protocol Localizing the scenarios Localizing the questionnaires Scheduling single sessions or co-discovery sessions Choosing think-aloud or retrospective recall Selecting the moderator Anticipating other aspects of international testing What if the participant arrives with someone else? Should more time be set aside for meeting and greeting? Should breaks be longer between sessions? Can you interpret nonverbal communication cues? Case Study: Analysis of the UPS Costa Rican website References Index

Quotes and reviews

"Beg, borrow, buy or steal a copy of Usability Testing Essentials:  Ready, Set…Test! This is as good a book on usability testing as you are going to find, and it will provide practical guidance regardless of your experience level…if you want a single book on usability, a book that will touch upon the primary topical areas in sufficient detail to be useful, Usability Testing Essentials:  Ready, Set…Test! by Carol Barnum is the one to read.  You won’t be disappointed."--User Experience, Volume 11, Issue 4, 4th Quarter 2012

"Have you been inspired to try usability testing, but not sure exactly how to go about it? Carol Barnum’s book will take you step-by-step through all you need to do. Plus, she gives you a solid background in the context and history of testing - and adds a valuable chapter on international testing. Carol is highly regarded as a teacher, an academic, and a practitioner, and all three of her roles shine through in this book" -- Caroline Jarrett, User Experience and Usability Consultant, Effortmark Limited, author of Forms that Work

"Carol Barnum’s Usability Testing Essentials delivers just what the title promises. Readers who are new to usability studies will find here all they need to know to design and execute a test, analyze the test data, and provide an effective report with recommendations for clients. But even usability experts will find the book chock full of ideas, insights, and suggestions that will improve their practice and their teaching in this increasingly important area of study. Barnum’s expertise on the subject shines through on every page, but the book’s greatest strength is its careful attention to analyzing test results, a topic that earlier texts have tended to gloss over much too quickly." -- George Hayhoe, PhD, Mercer University School of Engineering

"Usability Testing Essentials will guide you through both conducting a usability evaluation and making the decisions that will make it a useful and effective part of any user experience project. Carol Barnum places usability evaluation into the larger context of user-centered design.  It is a valuable resource for anyone getting started in usability and a excellent companion to both Letting Go of the Words and Forms that Work."-Whitney Quesenbery, WQusability

"Carol Barnum has done a wonderful job of distilling her research, consulting, and teaching experience into this very lively, practical book on how to do usability testing. You get up-to-date, step-by-step help with lots of variations to suit your own situation. You see each part in action through the running case study. If you have a global market, you'll especially want the chapter on international usability testing. This is a great addition to the usability toolkit. -- Janice (Ginny) Redish, Charter member of the UPA, author of Letting Go of the Words - Writing Web Content that Works

"Carol is a rare breed, both an academic and a practitioner. Her voice of experience comes across clearly, backed by references that illustrate where and who our methods came from. Newcomers to usability testing will find a solid introduction; while those more experienced will find unexpected insights into the field."-Carolyn Snyder, Snyder Consulting


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