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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Usability testing tools

Usability testing is a part of the development life cycle that is pretty critical. It is part of the series of steps (along with user testing and beta testing) that validate whether the product (and the features) are actually usable by the actual end users; feedback from this stage can make a difference between success and failure of the software / website. But such a process can only be useful it is done effectively; if done wrongly, it can prove to be either useless or provide wrong results.
Here is a smattering of tools that can be of help if you are in the business of being involved in usability testing:

1. Usability Test Data Logger tool v5.0 (link to site)
Some features:
# Cross-platform: Datalogger is a PC- or Macintosh-compatible Microsoft Excel file (requires Microsoft Excel to run).
# Customisable: You can enter participant details, task names, task order, pre- and post-test interview questions and include your own satisfaction questionnaire.
# Captures quantitative data: The spreadsheet includes preset task completion scores and includes a built-in timer to record time-on-task.
# Captures qualitative data: Allows data entry of qualitative observations for each participant and each task.
# Provides real-time data analysis: Automatically generates charts illustrating task completion, time-on-task and user satisfaction with the product.

2. Morae Usability Testing for Software and Web Sites (link to site)
From the website:
Morae gives you the tools to:
* Instantly calculate and graph standard usability measurements, so you can focus on understanding results
* Visualize important results in ways that make them more understandable and meaningful
* Present results persuasively and professionally
Morae bundle can be bought for $1495 (link)

3. A website that explains how to use Macromedia Director as a Usability testing tool (link to article)
From the website:
While Director will not eliminate standard development environments or programming languages, it will enhance the prototyping and usability testing experience by allowing developers to gather feedback from prospective clients and users early in product development. Early prototyping will allow developers to identify and fix defects early in development.

4. QUIS: The Questionnaire for User Interaction Satisfaction (link to site)
From the website:
The purpose of the questionnaire is to:
1. guide in the design or redesign of systems,
2. give managers a tool for assessing potential areas of system improvement,
3. provide researchers with a validated instrument for conducting comparative evaluations, and
4. serve as a test instrument in usability labs. Validation studies continue to be run. It was recently shown that mean ratings are virtually the same for paper versus computer versions of the QUIS, but the computer version elicits more and longer open-ended comments.

5. Rational Policy Tester Accessibility Edition (link to site)
From the website:
The Accessibility Edition helps ensure website user accessibility by monitoring for over 170 accessibility checks. It helps determine the site's level of compliance with government standards and displays results in user-friendly dashboards and reports.
* Improves visitor experience by exposing usability issues that may drive visitors away
* Facilitates compliance with federally-regulated guidelines and accessibility best practices
* Enlarges your market opportunity: over 10 percent of the online population has a disability (750 million people worldwide, 55 million Americans)
* Operating systems supported: Windows

6. Serco service (link to site)
They have a service that covers the following stages:
Planning and Strategy
User needs
Defining concepts
Usability evaluation

7. Web accessibility toolbar (link to site)
From website:
The Web Accessibility Toolbar has been developed to aid manual examination of web pages for a variety of aspects of accessibility. It consists of a range of functions that:
* identify components of a web page
* facilitate the use of 3rd party online applications
* simulate user experiences
* provide links to references and additional resources

8. WAVE 4.0 Beta (link to site)
From website:
WAVE is a free web accessibility evaluation tool provided by WebAIM. It is used to aid humans in the web accessibility evaluation process. Rather than providing a complex technical report, WAVE shows the original web page with embedded icons and indicators that reveal the accessibility information within your page.

9. Readability Test (link to site)
The website provides a service that helps in determining how readable a site is.
From the website:
Gunning Fog, Flesch Reading Ease, and Flesch-Kincaid are reading level algorithms that can be helpful in determining how readable your content is. Reading level algorithms only provide a rough guide, as they tend to reward short sentences made up of short words. Whilst they're rough guides, they can give a useful indication as to whether you've pitched your content at the right level for your intended audience.

If you have feedback on the above, or other tools that have been useful for you, please comment.

1 comment:

Rajat said...

Hi Ashish,

I have gone through some of your articles and find them interesting. I am an Indian IT professional, currently in UK. Could you please reply me at my given email id as I would like to discuss with you a very interesting engagement.

many thanks - R

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