Chapter 8, “The Farmer and the Cowman Should be Friends,” talks about arguments about usability. The author calls them “religious debates” solely because they have a lot in common with most discussions about religion and politics; two topics people have strong personal beliefs on, but cannot be proven. Same with websites, no one is going to have the same opinion or preference as to what goes into the site when working with a team. An important thing within this chapter is that there is no average user. The myth that users are like the designers is busted. Web users are all unique as well as web designers, so making a site that appeals to everyone is just not going to happen. Asking a question like “should this be a pull down menu?” is something you wont get a good answer from. Instead you should ask “does this pull down menu, with these items and this wording, with this context and layout create a good experience for users?” And no one can really answer that question, besides a lot of testing.
Chapter 9, “Usability Testing on 10 cents a day,” talks more on usability testing and the tests. Focus groups are much different than usability testing. Focus groups are small groups of people you would ask for an opinion or feelings about something, while usability tests are for one person at a time trying to do typical tasks on a webpage or prototype so you can debug and fix things.
If you want a great site you need to know a couple of things. You have to test the site, even if you can only get one user to test it. And testing one user early in the project is better than testing 50 near the end of the project. If you have no time and/ or money you can test it yourself. You can even find a friend to do it, which is what I have done personally in some of my classes. In the book, he states you should test at least once a month. This makes sense since you should keep your site updated and new. If you set a date and invite people and tell them to save the date, chances are they will show up every time to help out. You should have at least 3 participants for testing and they don’t need to find ALL the problems. It is virtually impossible.
Where do you test? Who should observe? Who should do the testing? What do you test, and when do you test it? How do you choose the tasks to test? What happens during the test? – These are all important questions when doing usability testing. To conduct the test you should be in a quiet place where there are no interruptions. The person who does the testing is the facilitator. They keep the testing on track and take notes. Anyone and everyone should observe. It might be helpful to have a second opinion. The facilitator will guide you through what you are testing. You will have a few tasks like create an account or login. You can even test a prototype before the site is even built. During the test you should have a script, and it might take around an hour.
Typical problems that occur can be that the user is unclear on the concept, the words they are looking for aren’t there, and there is just too much going on. Then when you find the problems, you need to decide what to fix. You need to fix the biggest problems first and make a list of them.
Seattle Usability Testing: http://www.customerexperiencelabs.com/seattle-usability-testing/