| Home | Search | EPSS Forum | What's New | Experts |

Design & Development - Usability Testing: information about the techniques and processes for evaluating software usability.

Alternatives to Testing User Experience

In this ClickZ article about web and software-based systems usability testing systems,  Jeffery Graham explains "These types of systems roughly fall into two categories: those that gather visitor feedback and those that measure the technical aspects of site performance. While neither of these alternatives can replace qualitative usability testing, they can provide valuable information to assess user experience." (2000-08-06)

Assessing the User Experience

This white paper by Luminant Worldwide contains a very good description of usability testing for internet sites. It includes a description of the various testing techniques, a case study and a sample of usability reports. (via Mersault Thinking) (2000-07-23)

Usability - Case studies

This interesting case study reports on a usability study of an employee self serve system where end users were reluctant to use the system, for unknown reasons.  (2000-07-23)

Usability Testing Basics

According to this ClickZ article by Jeffery Graham "As the industry has matured, three simple truths have emerged: (1) If customers find your site difficult to use, they will get frustrated and leave. (2) It is not a good thing if customers leave your site. and  (2) If you don't test your site with actual customers before launch, you can't ensure customers won't leave your site." (2000-07-23)

Newcomer's Introduction to Usability

According to this introduction to usability: "What makes a website or piece of software usable? It depends on a number of factors including how well the functionality fits the user's needs, how well the flow through the application fits the user's tasks, and how well the response of the application fits the user's expectations." (2000-07-15)

Professional Website Usability

This WebmasterBase.com five-part series, Lauren Kirby discusses Website Usability in terms of knowing how to give your users what they want. She goes from helping you make the decision to conduct a Usability Study to interpreting the results and producing a report. A must-read for anyone developing a site that wants to make it more effective and user-friendly. (via webword) (2000-07-01)

Usability InfoCentre

Web Site: The Frontend Usability InfoCentre is intended to introduce the principles of usability engineering and provide resources and information for companies undertaking usability engineering projects. (2000-06-04)

Comparison of Usability Evaluation Methods

This chart provides a brief description of various usability test techniques and their advantages and disadvantages. (2000-06-04)

End of the Hit Parade

According to this CIO magazine article " Investing any more money in your website without evaluating how well it meets the customers' needsor whether it is delivering enough of an ROI to justify its existenceis about as stupid as investing in a website that tells the time. This story will give you tips on how to measure whether your website measures up." (2000-05-29)

Web Designs Designed to Sell

According to this Fast Company article "Steve Burnett doesn't pretend that he knows why some sites sell and others repel. The key to creating great sites, he says, is to let the people who visit them help you design them: "Users will show us what works." (2000-05-21)

In the Web Lab

Ohrt says the error he sees most often is designers putting so much graphical content on pages that performance suffers. Sometimes, he says, Web developers are just in too much of a hurry. "No one would ever build a washing machine without going out to see what consumers want in a washing machine," he says. "But developers do that kind of thing with their Web sites." (via webword) (2000-03-26)

Best E-Tailers? It's a Mystery

Online retailers are starting to employ a time-tested tactic used by old-school retailers to ensure positive shopping experiences: the mystery shopper. For years, brick-and-mortar companies such Sears and Kinkos have hired third-party researchers to pose as customers and then report on their buying experiences, including in-store customer service, store appearance, and security. (2000-03-19)

Usability Toolkit

This site contains information on usability testing techniques, participatory design, contextual inquiry and evaluation checklists. (2000-02-27)

User Testing

CNET Builder.com walks you through the process of setting up and implementing a usability evaluation. You can conduct user testing anytime in your site's development cycle. Ideally, you'll do it several times during the planning and implementation phases, and then again after launch. (2000-02-20)

Dot Com Companies Obtain Customer's Seal of Approval Using Customer Feedback Experts BetaSphere

BetaSphere uses the Internet to capture marketing, technical, and usability feedback from customers while they're using web sites so that companies can more rapidly improve their web-based offerings to increase traffic, improve retention, and attract new customers. (2000-02-20)

How Are Your Users Using Your Site?

The subjects were asked to enroll in National's frequent flyer program, and it wasn't long before USWeb/CKS' designers realized their simple error. When it came time for the users to enter their date of birth, they were presented with a blank date box. However, it did not specify that the users should enter four digits for the year, and almost all of the test subjects entered two numbers. When they did, they were presented with an error message, with no guidance on how to fill in the date box correctly. (2000-02-20)


cPulse, A GartnerGroup e-company, is a ongoing site visitor satisfaction monitor providing continuous information in a simple, useable form.  (2000-02-20)

Hidden agenda

Vividence, a startup..., promises to help clients read their visitors' minds. The firm says it will show sites how they look to users, deliver snapshots of a visitor's intentions and what that visitor is thinking and feeling when he uses the site. A surfer may click on "customer service," but what exactly does he want--a return policy or a site map? Vividence will tell you. (2000-02-13)

Web Site Usability Tests Arrive

Another article about Vividence  (2000-02-13)

Interface Engineering

"In deploying any software application it is important to understand that besides the underlying software architecture and framework, the user access controls are paramount to its success-the behaviour, functionality and usability of the system and activities provided for and performed by the user." (via WebWord) (2000-01-16)

Remote Evaluation

This site contains "... information about the various remote evaluation techniques, tools, and most of all people who are working in the area of remote evaluation. (1999-12-05)

Getting Tough on Ease of Use

According to this Computer World article " Right now, corporate information technology managers and purchasers have no standard way to assess the usability of the software they buy, but within a few years it may be a matter of simply looking at the box." (1999-09-18)

Industry Usability Reporting

In October of 1997, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) initiated an effort to increase the visibility of software usability. The goals of the initiative are:

Usability Metrics -- How Good Are You?

It's easy to forget when designing a Web page that there's other people out there viewing your work. This month, Jakob Nielsen tells us a few good testing strategies to help you see your site as the entire world might (1999-09-05)

Observing What Didn't Happen

In this Eye for Design article argues that "During usability tests, everyone notices when a user fails because a feature breaks down. We dont need Holmes to solve these! But when expected things dont happen, or illogical things do happen, it can mean that developers didnt understand what the users needed, or how they would use the product." (1999-09-05)

Getting Tough on Ease of Use

According to this Computerworld article "Right now, corporate information technology managers and purchasers have no standard way to assess the usability of the software they buy, but within a few years it may be a matter of simply looking at the box." (1999-09-05)

Computer System Usability Questionnaire

This site contains a usability questionnaire that can be used to evaluate user satisfaction with a computer program. (1999-08-15)

UPA Newsletter

This Usability Professionals Newsletter contains an interview with Don Norman, articles on usability testing methods and case study of using paper prototypes. (1999-08-07)

Web Test Dummy: Automating Web-Site Usability Testing With Agents

The WebTechniques.com article describes a software agent that evaluates some web site usability factors. The agent is given a task to find some specific information.  In the process of finding the information, it evaluates download time, number of link on a page and the number of pages visited.  (1999-07-04)

Guide to Usability for Software Engineers

This University of Maryland web site contains an extensive body of link and information about usability testing and tools for developing user interface components. (Nov-27-98)

European Usability Support Centers

This site contains information about user interface design and usability testing. (May-16-99)

Servco Web Site - Online Articles and Links

The Useful Information section of the Servco website contains articles about usability testing (in PDF format) and links to other usability and Human-Computer Interaction web sites. (Nov-27-98)

Fear and Loathing on the Keyboard

This article by Gary Dickleman describes the 12 basic steps in the usability testing process. (Nov-28-97)

A quick guide to usability engineering resources

"This page refers to the work of relevant cross-sectorial usability engineering support projects in the EU Telematics Applications Programme. It is mainly directed at projects in this programme, although it's also relevant to other EC-funded programmes and the IT industry in general." (Jan-01-99)

Surprises on the Web: Results from Usability Testing

This short online article describes the results of some preliminary usability testing on internet web sites.

The Usability Methods Toolbox

This well organized site contains a brief description of the methods that can be used to evaluate the usability of a computer program. (Jan-04-97)

Usability Professional's Association

This website has information about the Association and links to other sites that contain information about usability testing. (Jan-05-97)

Usability Evaluation with the Cognitive Walkthrough

This online article describes a usability testing method that can be performed on a paper model by a design team. The authors contents that Cognitive Walkthrough is an effective method for identifying and eliminating some potential usability problems during the early stages of the design process. (Mar-12-97)

Getting the Most from Paired-User Testing

This online article by Daniel Wildman appeared in Vol2 No3 of the ACM Interactions magazine. It examines the shortcoming of some types of formal usability testing and describes a test method that employs two users interacting with one workstation. (Jul-01-97)

Focus on Usability

This article was published in the October 1996 edition of the Windows Tech Journal. The article describes the principles of usability testing and interface design some.   (Oct-5-97)

Usability Testing of World Wide Web Sites

This online article describes a set of usability testing techniques the authors employed to evaluate the Bureau of Labor Statistics web site (Jan-17-98)

Usability Evaluation Methods

This site contains a description of the various types of usability evaluation techniques. It also has some information about the cost of these evaluation methods and a chart that shows when each method can be used in the systems development life-cycle. (Jan-17-98)

PC Computing - Hall of Fame, Hall of Shame

This online article list the products and technologies that performed well in PC Computing Usability Labs as well as those the performed poorly. (Feb-01-98)

Usability and the Future of the Web

This section of the Netscape developers site contains multi-part article on the web site usability. (Feb-01-98)

System Usability Scale

This page contains a link to a zipped Microsoft Word file that describes the System Usability Scale (SUS) developed by the Digital Equipement Co. SUS is a reliable, low-cost usability scale that can be used for the assessment of system usability and is freely available to researchers and usability specialists. (Feb-01-98)

Usability Problem Identification Using Both Low- and High-Fidelity Prototypes

This article describes an experimental comparison of using low and high fidelity prototypes in usability evaluations. In the experiment, substantially the same sets of usability problems were found in the low- and high-fidelity conditions. Moreover, there was a significant correlation between the proportion of subjects detecting particular problems in the low- and high-fidelity groups. In other words, individual problems were detected by a similar proportion of subjects in both the low- and high-fidelity conditions. The authors concluded that the use of low-fidelity prototypes can be effective throughout the product development cycle, not just during the initial stages of design. (Feb-01-98)

Software Usability Articles

This PC Magazine Online page contains links to several articles on software usability testing and problems. (Oct-06-98)

The STC Usability SIG Website

This web site contains articles and information on software usability and the usability assessment of technical communication. (Sep-06-98)

The WebMetrics Toolkit

The WebMetrics Toolkit is a group of programs that can be used to assess the usability of HTML documents. (Sep-06-98)

Ask questions or post comments in the EPSS Forum
Sign-up for a free weekly Newsletter
Search the EPSS InfoSite 
Visit the Sponsor Page
Return to the Home page 

Please send your comments to editor@epssinfosite.com

Copyright 1997-2000 - Bill Miller