Web Usability 101: Watch (and Discuss) A Live Test John Fritz UMBC
Must Read • www.sensible.com • Usability Script • Video Consent Form • Omitted Chapters from 1st Edition
Usability “Making whatever you’re working on easier to use for who ever is going to use it.” “An element of design, focusing on ‘can this be used when it’s done?’ rather than just making it look good.” • Steve Krug, 2001 WebTalkGuys interview
Usability Basics • Instead of imagining what users want, you observe, interview them and prototype their needs. • Develop content, design and programming strategy by reconciling observed user needs with sponsor’s desired objectives. • Test user tasks and expectations with low-cost prototypes (e.g., paper, PhotoShop) • Users don’t make mistakes; Websites do
Krug’s First Law of Usability Don’t Make Me Think: • As far as is humanly possible, when I look at a Web page it should be self-evident. Obvious. Self-explanatory. • Does it pass the next door neighbor test?
Dreaded Thought Balloons • “Where do I start?” • “Why did they do that?” • “Can I click on that?” • “Those two links seem like they’re the same thing. Are they really?” • “Why did they put that there?”
Krug’s Second Law of Usability • It doesn’t matter how many times I have to click, as long as each click is a mindless, unambiguous choice.
Testing rationale • Keep test simple—so you do enough of it. • Small number of users will find a majority of site’s errors. • “Target Users” aren’t as important as we think.
Common problems • Users are unclear on concept • The words they’re looking for aren’t there • There’s too much going on • Tough to change current web development process.
Testing Basics • Get It Testing • Do they understand the purpose of the site, how it’s organized, how it works, etc. • Key Task Testing • Ask the user to do something and watch how well they do. • What, when and how to test (example). • Krug’s Sample Script • UMBC example
Participant Practice Site owner or webmaster • Think about your organization’s and users’ needs. Test facilitator • 5 min: Interview webmaster for goals, issues, problems • 10 min: Test user for “get it” and 1-2 key tasks. Average user • 5 min: Leave the room • Return: Think out loud, pretend this is normal.
Reflection • Site owner • Did the user behave as you expected? • Facilitator • Did you reveal a bias or leaning? • User • Did you think aloud? What would you add?
Communicating Usability Results No substitute for watching someone use your site. • But don’t let site owners in the room with user; watch from video camera or one-way mirror. If owners can’t attend, prepare a Summary Report. • 2001 Insights Online handout • 2005 myUMBC Degree Navigation Study A 2-3 minute highlight video may entice them to attend a live session or study issues further. • 2003 UMBC Blackboard Usability Study Highlights
Content, Context, Users Context Content Users Information Architecture for the World Wide Web
Web Content Developers & “Artifacts” A web content developer meets the information needs of users, as well as the mission and culture of the site’s sponsor(s). Content artifacts prototype user needs, facilitate stakeholder consensus and guide designers or programmers who build the site.
Design Student Advising Home Page
References • Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition, by Steve Krug, New Riders Publishing (2005) • Designing Web Usabilityby Jakob Nielsen, New Riders Publishing (2000) • Information Architecture for the World Wide Web by Louis Rosenfeld & Peter Morville, O’Reilly & Associates (1998) • “Building A Paper Web Site,” opening “lecture” in John’s IS/ENGL 387 “Web Content Development” class at UMBC (http://www.umbc.edu/~fritz/engl387/paper_site)