I’ve been out of the office for 3 days conducting usability testing for our new/updated site. We went to 3 locations and worked with 9 users/testers. I’m not attempting to write our findings here … that would be a bit premature (to say the least).
Although I had been checking email while I was out of the office and although I was working on our site, our project with our typical user groups; its amazing how out of touch I feel with the library world. This is odd since I was spending all my time testing in libraries. I was reading tonight trying to find something to write about and it felt like it had been weeks since I had thought about macro issues.
Since I’m feeling a bit out of touch with the types of macro issues about which I usually post and since my mind is still caught up in all things usability, I think I’ll do a brief de-brief (ha ha) (or not…)
We tested a range of users running the spectrum of occupations and familiarity with our existing site. We were sort of following one Jacob Nielsen’s rule of thumbs about the number of users. He has stated that, “It takes only five users to uncover 80 percent of high-level usability problems” — Our testing uncovered overwhelming consistency across the spectrum of our users. Which was good news for us moving forward.
Here are my interesting observations about the testing… From my highly unscientific observations on this topic, the biggest variable that seemed to result in differing comments or concerns with our testing was one occupational factor: being a librarian. The librarians we showed the site to, seemed to have issues, concerns, or ideas that fell out of the spectrum of things that were being experienced by the other users we tested. This wasn’t hugely surprising, but it was interesting.
This next observation about which much has been written is that there did also seem to be some usage issues based on age. Since so much has been written in other places about this; I’ll just leave it to say that we (or rather I) did note it to a small extent.
I found a usability testing “tutorial” hosted at the University of Texas at Austin. (accessed 11/2/2009), this was the basic outline of how we conducted our tests. (although I found this tutorial after we had already planned and completed most of our testing).
Tomorrow… back to the salt mine. Maybe I’ll be feeling a bit more inspired tomorrow night…