12 Less Obvious Usability Issues to Look For

I often compare usability testing to juggling in the middle of a 3-ring circus—there’s a lot happening all at once and it’s easy to miss (or misinterpret) what you’re seeing. During a recent usability study, I noticed that a few participants stopped scrolling about halfway down the page. At first, I assumed it was because … Continue reading “12 Less Obvious Usability Issues to Look For”

3 Tips for More Successful Prototype Testing

One of the best uses of limited development dollars is to usability test a prototype as early as possible. Test too early in the design process — and participants may not fully understand what they’re looking at. Test too late — and you likely will trash quite a bit of work (and money). Here are … Continue reading “3 Tips for More Successful Prototype Testing”

Your (Super Important) Role as a Usability Study Observer

You may not be the usability test facilitator, designer, developer, or business analyst, but as a business stakeholder, your participation is critical to the success of the usability study. Yes, you. As a subject matter expert in your area, you know things NO ONE ELSE on the team knows. Your unique perspective and knowledge allows the facilitator … Continue reading “Your (Super Important) Role as a Usability Study Observer”

What to Usability Test First

If the idea of usability testing your website is intriguing to you, but you’re not sure where to begin — there are at least 6 good places to start. Open Exploration If you’ve never tested your website before, this is a great place to start. Learn how real customers or users are really using your website … Continue reading “What to Usability Test First”

Inside My Usability Toolkit: Participant Scheduling

When scheduling participants for a phone study, in-person interview, or moderated usability study, I ALWAYS call them to set up the appointment. I do this for several reasons: Test Articulation + Interest Can I easily understand the participant? Can they speak in coherent sentences? Do they seem enthusiastic about the study? Were they fully honest … Continue reading “Inside My Usability Toolkit: Participant Scheduling”

10 Mistakes to Avoid When Conducting a Usability Study

Facilitating a usability study is a lot like juggling. Not only do you need to pay attention to what’s happening on the screen in front of you, but also: Uncover everything you need to learn Put the participant at ease Keep one eye on the clock Trouble-shoot (inevitable) technology issues Remember to hit “record” Ask … Continue reading “10 Mistakes to Avoid When Conducting a Usability Study”

Are 5 Usability Testers Really Enough?

After I read Jakob Nielsen‘s findings in 2000 that usability professionals only need to test 5 users, I’ve often wondered… can that really be right? After looking at data from my own usability research, I was amazed to find that yes, 5 testers is enough. Disclaimer: The following is based on my experiences. Your results may vary. … Continue reading “Are 5 Usability Testers Really Enough?”

How I Find Usability Participants

I see the question “How do you find usability participants?” a lot on Quora and similar sites. The simple truth is, there is no secret place to find participants. But, there are many places to find willing volunteers. Website Intercept This is probably my best source for participants, as I know they’re already looking at the test site. I typically use … Continue reading “How I Find Usability Participants”

Usability in a Box (My Usability Toolkit)

Having a baby changed everything about the way I conduct usability studies. In the first 6 weeks after returning to work from my second maternity leave, I conducted 4 concurrent usability studies. Four sets of everything: Four sets of participants to recruit. Four sets of test materials. Four sets of client stakeholders. Before that, I … Continue reading “Usability in a Box (My Usability Toolkit)”

How I Remote Mobile Usability Test

Until a better mousetrap is invented, my preferred method for conducting a remote mobile usability study is using Skype and the “laptop hug” method. Almost everyone has a laptop these days (it seems like it anyway) — which handily includes a built-in webcam. Just to be sure, I make having a Skype account a requirement … Continue reading “How I Remote Mobile Usability Test”