Usability Testing


Usability testing[1] is an effective way to verify an existing design[5] or system[6]. It is a structured observation of users in a laboratory setting. Users are observed performing important tasks with a working system or prototype[3]. They are asked to “think aloud” while completing the tasks. This includes describing what they are trying to do, the hypotheses they are forming, their expected results of an action, etc. The evaluator observes the user’s performance[2] noting problems, comments, circuitous paths, etc. Usability[4] tests are useful for collecting quantitative data[7] regarding time per task and number of errors. (Rubin, 1994)

The evaluator always explains to users that only the software is being tested, not the user themselves. Debriefing is usually included to get gather additional information about the user’s experience. A usability[4] test is typically videotaped so the evaluator may perform more detailed observations and analysis after the test.

Terms definitions
1. Usability testing. Usability testing is an effective way to verify an existing design or system. It is a structured observation of users in a laboratory setting. Users are observed performing important tasks with a working system or prototype. They are asked to “think aloud” while completing the tasks. This includes describing what they are trying to do, […]
2. performance. How well a system or algorithm runs or operates. Related Articles: User Research« Back to Glossary Index
3. prototype. Prototyping is the modelling of a realised but yet-to-be-implemented technological outcome. The purpose of prototyping is to evaluate the fitness for purpose of a technological outcome against the brief and is undertaken to establish (or not) a defendable case for its implementation, refinement or further development. Related Articles: User Research« Back to Glossary Index
4. Usability. Usability is a term used to denote the ease with which people can employ a particular tool or other human-made object in order to achieve a particular goal. In human-computer interaction and computer science, usability usually refers to the elegance and clarity with which the user interface of a computer program or a web site […]
5. design. Creating a plan or mock up of the new system or digital outcome based on all of the requirements and specifications that have been identified. Related Articles: User Research« Back to Glossary Index