Usability testing at a user conference

26 Feb 2008 - 3:28pm
6 years ago
3 replies
975 reads
Jerome Ryckborst
2007

Our Marketing dep't wants me to do "usability testing" at an upcoming user conference -- a gathering of our software users. The conference's purpose: for users to improve their software skills and to learn about upcoming product advancements.

I proposed a card sort, because it's low-tech, relatively quick, and needs little setup. This meets y needs (I have something I need sorted), but does not meet the conference goals; it won't help users improve their skills or learn about upcoming product advancements. So it got lots of thumbs down. I think it's also about the lack of glamour that a card-sort has -- users must leave with the right impression of Usability work.

I can think of something else -- Morae-based usability testing of an upcoming feature -- but I... is there a glamourous or edu-taining Usability activity that I can do, instead?

[Hey! I saw that. Stop rolling your eyes!]

Comments

26 Feb 2008 - 5:50pm
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

IMO, the most successful presentations are "infotainment."

I'd start with "what point do you want to make" and then think about an
entertaining way to make it. A user conference should be fun.

I think using Morae a conference would work very well if you projected it
onto a screen so the audience could see the keystrokes and face. It would be
dramatic and keep their attention if you make the test quick and
interesting. Unless there is some reason that you need to present a "real"
test, I think I'd explore something fun. The goal is to let people know how
usability testing works and what it is but not really to educate them in
depth,

My inclination would be to keep it very short. Just long enough to get the
users involved but stop the test before they get bored which can easily
happen.

It might be fun to come up with two screens that do the same thing. One
would be well-designed and really easy to use, the other should be
graphically very slick but with serious usability problems. Select three
volunteers from the audience and remove them from the room. Have someone
entertain them until it is their turn. First show the screens briefly and
ask the audience to vote on which they think is the better screen. The you
would call in the three participants and perform a brief A-B usability test.
Give them no more than three simple tasks so the audience gets the idea but
doesn't get lost.

Of course you have to have confidence that the test will work. But it's not
hard to come up with non-obvious errors that make the screen really hard to
use but with graphic design that looks slick.

You can use the end of the session for a Q & A session where you lead a
discussion with the about the test and the design.

Of course, throughout you would make the link that what you were doing is
how the company you work for ensures its products are as useful as possible.
Explain a bit of IxD as well if you can.

Hope some of this was helpful.

Charlie

27 Feb 2008 - 10:47am
Dante Murphy
2006

Check out Mindcanvas...they have several gamelike elicitation methods that meet the same objective as a traditional card sort.

http://www.themindcanvas.com/

27 Feb 2008 - 11:10am
russwilson
2005

Jerome - did you see my posts on this?

Techsmith interview (Morae):
http://www.dexodesign.com/2008/01/techsmith-interview-on-morae-usability.html

Usability testing at conferences:
http://www.dexodesign.com/2007/07/usability-testing-at-conferences.html

On Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 2:28 PM, Jerome Ryckborst <
JRyckborst at gemcomsoftware.com> wrote:

> Our Marketing dep't wants me to do "usability testing" at an upcoming user
> conference -- a gathering of our software users. The conference's purpose:
> for users to improve their software skills and to learn about upcoming
> product advancements.
>
> I proposed a card sort, because it's low-tech, relatively quick, and needs
> little setup. This meets y needs (I have something I need sorted), but does
> not meet the conference goals; it won't help users improve their skills or
> learn about upcoming product advancements. So it got lots of thumbs down. I
> think it's also about the lack of glamour that a card-sort has -- users must
> leave with the right impression of Usability work.
>
> I can think of something else -- Morae-based usability testing of an
> upcoming feature -- but I... is there a glamourous or edu-taining Usability
> activity that I can do, instead?
>
> [Hey! I saw that. Stop rolling your eyes!]
> ________________________________________________________________
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--
Russell Wilson
Vice President of Product Design, NetQoS
Blog: http://www.dexodesign.com

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