Usability Testing (Remote & Local), Heuristic Evaluation, & Style Guides (

By: Kiewe Consulting  09-12-2011
Keywords: Aesthetic Testing

User Research

When designing the interaction of a complex product with a human being, it is impossible to anticipate all the UX problems. Therefore, UX evaluation is essential in order to identify UX issues and possible solutions early in the design process. I use five primary methods of UX evaluation as required:

  • Collaborative evaluation is a type of brainstorming session where the development team and selected end users walk through a mockup of the proposed interface and provide feedback.
  • Usability testing (or usability evaluation) is the evaluation of a product’s usability through direct observation of user behavior during a structured task. A typical usability test requires a small number of participants (3-10) recruited from a representative sample of actual or prospective users.
  • Remote usability testing is accomplished with specialized software that allows the test facilitator to see users' screens as they complete as task and a telephone connection to allow conversation. Remote usability testing has the advantage of being less costly to organize while providing a geographically diverse sample. I use Morae software to record all user actions and dialogue during local usability testing and UserView or Ethno software to do the same for remote usability testing. Since it is based on direct observation of actual user behavior, usability testing is the most reliable way to evaluate a product and is an essential part of UX evaluation.
  • Aesthetic testing is the evaluation of a product’s visceral appeal through the observation of user responses to various designs. It can be scheduled independently or coordinated with usability testing.
  • Heuristic inspection is an evaluation method where a UX expert compares a prototype against predefined set of heuristics, or rules of thumb, such as “The system should always keep the users informed about what is going on through appropriate feedback.” Typically, the inspector evaluates the product against a list of 10 or so heuristics, noting when they are met or not met, and making suggestions for improvement.
  • Guideline review is a thorough evaluation of a product’s user interface against the guidelines described in the development organization's UI style guide or against a platform style guide such as Windows Vista User Experience, Apple Human Interface Guidelines, or Java Look and Feel Design Guidelines. This is similar to what an editor does for documentation, although here the focus is on UX issues.

Keywords: Aesthetic Testing

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