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Screen Space: A blog and podcast about users, texts, and technology

Jennifer L. Bowie, Ph.D.

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Screen Space: A blog and podcast about users, texts, and technology
11 MIN2009 NOV 12
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[Podcast Transcript]In Episode 11 of Screen Space: Usability Usability Testing 101 Welcome to Screen Space your podcast about creating usable, accessible, effective, and efficient web, blog, and new media design for the everyday (and non-expert) designer. This is Episode 11 of Screen Space: Usability Usability Testing 101. This episode is a short introduction to Usability Testing. I explain what usability testing is, where it came from, and why you may want to consider integrating it into your design process for good web, blog, and new media design. This will be the first of three or four episodes on usability testing. While writing the script for the usability testing podcast I realized, eight pages in, that this would not nicely fit into a single podcastmdash;unless I wanted to go very long. So, instead I am breaking it into parts. In this first part I discuss what usability is, provide a definition of usability testing, and an outline of the steps to conducting usability test. In the following episodes, I will discuss the five steps to conducting usability testing in greater detail: from defining your users to analyzing the results and making changes in your design. I will also discuss the number of users you should test. I am your host, Dr. Jennifer L. Bowie, a professor at Georgia State University. I teach and conduct research in areas related to new media, web, and blog design. To start with, welcome new listeners from China and Arizona! Enjoy and let me know if there is anything you want me to cover. This is a special ldquo;World Usability Dayrdquo; episode. November 12th is World Usability Day and the day I am releasing this episode. The theme for 2009 is ldquo;Designing for a Sustainable Worldrdquo;. World Usability Day is put on by The Usability Professionals Association, who know all about usability and usability testingmdash;the subject of this episode. All around the world people will be celebrating Usability with online and local events. So, celebrate with me by listening to this (which you are) and checking out the World Usability Day website at http://www.worldusabilityday.org/.In episode 10 I introduced the concept of user-centered design, where real users become a central part of the design process. User-centered design results in a far more effective, efficient, and usable design than the more problematic user-friendly design, which tends to focus on stereotypes, and system-centered, which tends to focus more on functional specifications and bells and whistles. There are several techniques, methods, and processes we can employ to work towards the user-centered design process. Usability testing is one such method. It is frequently used in the United States and is an easier method for a single person or small group to try than some of the other options.Usability is a term I use often in this podcast series. Since I shall be specifically discussing a method to test for it in this episode, and because it is a fairly general term, I will begin by defining usability. One of my favorite definitions is from Dumas and Redish, who wrote one of the first books on usability testing. They state ldquo;usability means that people who use the product can do so quickly and easily to accomplish their own tasksrdquo; on page four of their book. The International Organization for Standardization presents this definition ldquo;The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals in a specified context of use with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfactionrdquo; (ISO 9241-11). Whitney Quesenbery, on page 82, points out two issues with this definition. Her first issue is that the focus on tasks and tools may lead those who design products that do not have strongly definite tasks and tools (such as new media) to think usability does not apply. The second issue she sees is that this does not acknowledge ldquo;funrdquo; as a user or designer goal. So, Quesenbery provides 5 dimen...