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Testing Methods and Tools

Introduction
Comprehensive sites on Usability Testing Methods and Tools
Usability Testing Methods
Usability Testing Tools
     Automated Tools
     Usability Labs
Case Studies
Credits

Introduction

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Usability is the combination of fitness for purpose, ease of use, and ease of learning that makes a product effective. Usability testing focuses on determining if the product is easy to learn, satisfying to use and contains the functionality that the users desire. The movement towards usability testing stimulated the evolution of Usability Labs. Many forms of usability testing have been tried from discount usability engineering, field tests to competitive usability testing. Apart from research and development of various testing methods there have been development in the field of automated tools for evaluation of interface designs against usability guidelines. Some of the tools are DRUM, WebCAT, WebSAT etc.

This page provides informative links to other sources on World Wide Web, focusing on issues of Usability Testing Methods and Tools. The Page is organized in four subsections. The first section includes links to Comprehensive sites that cover various aspects of usability including Testing Methods and Tools. The second section covers sites on Testing Methods e.g. Heuristic, surveys etc. The third section contains links to Testing Tools including automated tools and testing labs. The fourth section presents links to some case studies. Lastly, we credit the people who maintain this page.

Comprehensive sites on Usability Testing Methods and Tools

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Jakob Nielsen's Website Usable Information Technology

Jakob Nielsen, Ph.D., is a principal of the Nielsen Norman Group, a user experience consultant. The site can be called the encyclopedia of information on usability engineering.

Keith Instone's site Guide to Web usability resources

Usable Web is a collection of 390 links and accompanying information about human factors, user interface issues, and usable design specific to the World Wide Web. Usable Web adds value to the links by providing descriptions, multiple organizational schemes (by date, by site, by topic) and custom search engine queries.

Usability Testing Methods

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Usability Checklist All Things Web

One of the most effective forms of inspection-based user testing involves the use of a "usability checklist." Checklist-based user testing is extremely inexpensive to implement, and requires a surprisingly small number of testers to be effective.

Usability Evaluation Methods Human Factors International

This site decomposes Usability Evaluation Methods into Testing, Inspection, and Inquiry. It offers nine different testing methods and offers an overview, procedures and references pertaining to these methods.

Internet Technical Group Sandia National Labs.

A number of methods can be used to gather requirements and identify tasks for Web sites. Because there is no "one size fits all" solution, the specific requirements, schedule, and objectives of a project will usually dictate the appropriate method or methods to use. Additionally, each method has its strengths and weaknesses, and these along with sample materials are provided to help usability engineers evaluate which method is most appropriate for a given situation.

SUMI Serco Usability Services

SUMI (Software Usability Measurement Inventory) is a rigorously tested and proven method of measuring software quality from the user's viewpoint. It delivers a subjective measurement of user satisfaction.

Usability Methods Toolbox James Hom at Best Internet Communications, Inc.

A site describing various methods of usability testing: Thinking Aloud protocol, Co-discovery method, Question asking protocol, Performance measurement etc.

Steps in Usability Testing Methodology Branaghan Design Group.

Fundamentals of Usability Testing is a paper by Russell J. Branaghan, Ph.D. describing various steps in usability testing methodology i.e. Purpose of the test, General problem statement and so on.

Structure of a Usability Test Interactive Design Inc.

This is a description of a usability study discussing about individual test sessions showing what each participant does, the role of observers, the usability report detailing the product's strengths and weaknesses.

Usability Test Group Helsinki University of Technology

Discussion of Heuristic evaluation, Pluralistic usability walkthrough test methods by Usability Test Group of Helsinki University of Technology.

Usability Testing Information Technology Institute

Provides an overview of usability testing methodology. It also introduces concepts of interviews, task analysis, prototyping and expert reviews.

Usability Handbook NASA/ Goddard Space Flight Center

Provides a link to the usability testing handbook for the Software and Automation Systems Branch (Code 522) at the NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center.

Usability Testing Tools

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Various Automated Testing Tools have been developed and are used to evaluate usability from different perspectives. In addition, various companies and organizations offer specialized services to assist in Usability testing with the use of their testing labs. Even large organizations like Microsoft and IBM have their own usability testing labs and tools. This section is divided in two parts: Automated tools and Usability Labs.

Automated Tools

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ErgoLight Usability Software ErgoLight Usability Software Ltd.

Comprehensive GUI quality solutions   for the professional Windows application developer. ErgoLight offers solutions for developers of Windows applications for testing and evaluating their usability.

WebMetrics Tool Suite National Institute of Standards and Technology

Tool Suite contains rapid, remote, and automated tools to help in producing usable web sites. The Web Static Analyzer Tool (WebSAT) checks the html of a web page against numerous usability guidelines. The output from WebSAT consists of identification of potential usability problems, which should be investigated further through user testing. The Web Category Analysis Tool (WebCAT) lets the usability engineer quickly construct and conduct a simple category analysis across the web.

Bobby Center for Applied Special Technology

Bobby is a web-based public service offered by CAST that analyzes web pages for their accessibility to people with disabilities as well as their compatibility with various browsers.

DRUM Serco Usability Services

DRUM is a software tool, which has been developed by close cooperation between Human Factors professionals and software engineers to provide a broad range of support for video-assisted observational studies.

Form Testing Suite Corporate Research and Advanced Development, Digital Equipment Corporation

Provides a test suite developed to test various web browsers. The test results section provides a description of the tests.


Usability Labs

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ULAB Usability Center

The Usability Center (ULAB) is a full service organization, which provides a "Street-Wise" approach to usability risk management and product usability excellence. It has custom designed ULAB facilities.

Usability Sciences Usability Sciences Corporation

Usability Sciences Corporation has a usability lab in Dallas consisting of two large offices separated by a one way mirror. The test room in each lab is equipped with multiple video cameras, audio equipment, as well as everything a user needs to operate the program. The video control and observation room features five monitors, a video recorder with special effects switching, two-way audio system, remote camera controls, a PC for test log purposes, and a telephone for use as a help desk.

Portable Usability Labs UserWorks, Inc.

UserWorks, Inc. (formerly Man-Made Systems) is a consulting firm in the Washington, DC area specializing in the design of user-product interfaces. UserWorks does analyses, market research, user interface design, rapid prototyping, product usability evaluations, competitive testing and analyses, ergonomic analyses, and human factors contract research.  UserWorks offers several portable usability labs (audio-video data collection systems) for sale or rent and an observational data logging software product for sale.

Usability Labs Lodestone Research LLC

Lodestone Research has usability-testing laboratory with state of the art audio and visual recording and testing equipment. All equipment has been designed to be portable so that it can be taken on the road. The lab consists of a test room and an observation/control room that can seat as many as ten observers. A-V equipment includes two (soon to be 3) fully controllable SVHS cameras, capture/feed capabilities for test participant's PC via scan converter and direct split signal (to VGA "slave" monitors in observation room), up to eight video monitors and four VCA monitors for observer viewing, mixing/editing equipment, and "wiretap" capabilities to monitor and record both sides of telephone conversation (e.g., if participant calls customer support).

OCLC Usability Lab Online Computer Library Center, Inc.

Provides insight into the usability test laboratory at Online Computer Library Center, Inc. It gives an overview of the infrastructure as well as the process being used in the laboratory.

Case Studies

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Usability Improvements in Lotus cc:Mail for Windows Lotus Development Corporation

Provides insight into how usability improvements were made in a highly successful product, Lotus cc:Mail for Windows. The document discusses the entire improvement process divided into four phases, of which, testing forms the second phase.

Examining WWW - Lessons from Pilot Studies Center for Research on Writing & Communication Technologies

Is a paper on Lessons from Pilot Studies about Examining World Wide Web Designs. The findings are based on three projects: 1. The Online Catalog Project, 2. The Graduate School Application Forms Project, and 3. WWW and Multimedia Instructional Modules Comparison Project.

Usability Testing - Netscape Navigator Vs. Microsoft Internet Explorer Carolyn C Gargaro

Provides the outcome of usability test conducted to compare Netscape Navigator with Microsoft Internet Explorer. The document is informative and gives a starting point for anyone interested in evaluating a product as compared to a competitor's product.

Credits

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This page was last modified on 1/12/99.