Usability Testing... are we responsible?

Usability Testing... are we responsible?

Post by Cassandra Bonne » Wed, 10 Jun 1998 04:00:00



Hi all,

"Usability Testing" a.k.a. testing the software from a users point of
view...

How can a QA/QC person really do this, and do it well?  Should the testers
also do this Usability testing?  In our company, the QA/QC staff construct
functionality lists and the test outlines from the specifications directly.
We get to know these specifications intimately!  We are also responsible
for the usability testing.  Therefor we are biased and know what the
program will and won't do.

The problem comes down to trying to perform the usability testing in an
objective, fresh way.   How do you experts keep your familiarity with the
specs from clouding your "user" judgement?

Thanks,

cb

--
Interested in automating your Laboratory results, accurately and quickly?
Visit us at www.labtronics.com for our complete list of software packages.
Pick up our free Labtimer as well!  

 
 
 

Usability Testing... are we responsible?

Post by Don Magi » Thu, 11 Jun 1998 04:00:00


One of the most common ways of performing usability testing involves the
use of a simple video camera to watch what users do and evaluate their
responses.  There are labs (names escape me) which actually use
bio-feedback information to measure stress levels and more.

If you are simply looking to review how easy it is to use the software (vs.
a specified job function), you can maintain your independence by working
from a baseline expectation which should include a business process model
or some other similar description of what a user is supposed to be
accomplishing.

If it's feature function usability testing, then begin getting a sense of
how many fields, keystrokes, screens, mouse movements are required to
complete one or more tasks and then try to find ways to minimize the
quantity, minimize distances (between mouse moves), reorganize fields such
that they flow better with the ACTUAL field requirements.

So many programmers forget about this.  I use a contact manager where the
tab order is Name, Address1, Address2, City, Phone 1, Fax, State, Zip.  The
programmer should be shot!!  (As should I for still using it!!)

I hope this helps.

Kind Regards,
Don Magie.



Quote:> Hi all,

> "Usability Testing" a.k.a. testing the software from a users point of
> view...

> How can a QA/QC person really do this, and do it well?  Should the
testers
> also do this Usability testing?  In our company, the QA/QC staff
construct
> functionality lists and the test outlines from the specifications
directly.
> We get to know these specifications intimately!  We are also responsible
> for the usability testing.  Therefor we are biased and know what the
> program will and won't do.

> The problem comes down to trying to perform the usability testing in an
> objective, fresh way.   How do you experts keep your familiarity with the
> specs from clouding your "user" judgement?

> Thanks,

> cb

> --
> Interested in automating your Laboratory results, accurately and quickly?
> Visit us at www.labtronics.com for our complete list of software
packages.
> Pick up our free Labtimer as well!  


 
 
 

Usability Testing... are we responsible?

Post by Barry » Thu, 11 Jun 1998 04:00:00


I think that QA do have a certain responsibility for usability
testing, for several reasons, although mainly because of 'perspective
differences' (for want of a better word). For example, suppose a new
application is built - exactly & 100% in accordance with the design
specs - that doesn't mean it is fit for use. Because it may be so
difficult/arkward to use, or it ends up so complicated that the users
don't want it or won't use it. Yet, it is what the design specified.
I remember a diagram that vividly showed this - it showed the design
of a swing, with sections on "what the customer ordered", "What the
development team built", "What the engineers installed" etc, with
the effect of illustrating the different perspectives of the various
people involved.

Secondly, where applications (especially bespoke developments) are
very complex and business processes drive the design of the new
application it is very important that usability be considered in
testing - especially where the development team (and the test team)
do not have first hand experience or the expert knowledge of the
actual business processes. One financial organisation I was involved
with included "Business Experts" as members of both the design teams
and on the test teams. Their input as actual "tester users" was
invaluable.

The necessity of usability testing can be lessened by including
provisions for usability/operability within the design specs and
especially at the unit testing stage, where most of those issues
can more easily be dealt with. Alternately, prototyping is also a
good way to identify any potential usability/operability problems.

rergards,
Barry

Main Page: Http://members.tripod.com/~bazman/index.html
Mailto: bazman AT bigfoot DOT com

 
 
 

Usability Testing... are we responsible?

Post by Michael Silverstei » Mon, 15 Jun 1998 04:00:00


I recently attended a demo of a product called ErgoLight that measures
usability by watching a user's interactions and paying attention to certain
difficulty indicators that you define, such as 'cancel' and 'undo'. There's
much more to it than my description. You can find out more at their web site:
http://www.ergolight.co.il

I have no association with this company and have not actually used this
product, but it demoed very well.


> Hi all,

> "Usability Testing" a.k.a. testing the software from a users point of
> view...

> How can a QA/QC person really do this, and do it well?  Should the testers
> also do this Usability testing?  In our company, the QA/QC staff construct
> functionality lists and the test outlines from the specifications directly.
> We get to know these specifications intimately!  We are also responsible
> for the usability testing.  Therefor we are biased and know what the
> program will and won't do.

> The problem comes down to trying to perform the usability testing in an
> objective, fresh way.   How do you experts keep your familiarity with the
> specs from clouding your "user" judgement?

> Thanks,

> cb

> --
> Interested in automating your Laboratory results, accurately and quickly?
> Visit us at www.labtronics.com for our complete list of software packages.
> Pick up our free Labtimer as well!

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Mike Silverstein, Lead Architect        voice: (919) 363-3946
SilverMark, Inc.                          fax: (919) 362-0772

Raleigh, NC                         http://www.silvermark.com
 
 
 

Usability Testing... are we responsible?

Post by John Layma » Thu, 18 Jun 1998 04:00:00


Quote:> How can a QA/QC person really do this, and do it well?  Should the
testers
> also do this Usability testing?

Usability is a qualitative attribute, and you can't really exercise quality
control over it unless you have a testable requirement upon that attribute
(as is true in testing any of the -ilities). In the absence of that, what
you're doing is not usability testing so much as it is just thumping on the
software, after the fact, to figure out what the requirement should have
been.

Researching human factors is a worthwhile activity, but the study of
egonomics is somewhat different from the quality control activity we
normally associate with software testing. Contrast so-called subjective
"usability testing" with objective testing to see if a qualitative
requirement has been met. For example, ATM software might have a
requirement that some percentage of walkup users be able to properly
complete a transaction on first attempt. That's a testable requirement that
QC can get its arms around without lapsing into poke and prod "testing".

 
 
 

Usability Testing... are we responsible?

Post by Michael Roed » Thu, 18 Jun 1998 04:00:00




> > How can a QA/QC person really do this, and do it well?  Should the
> testers
> > also do this Usability testing?

> Usability is a qualitative attribute, and you can't really exercise quality
> control over it unless you have a testable requirement upon that attribute
> (as is true in testing any of the -ilities). In the absence of that, what
> you're doing is not usability testing so much as it is just thumping on the
> software, after the fact, to figure out what the requirement should have
> been.

> Researching human factors is a worthwhile activity, but the study of
> egonomics is somewhat different from the quality control activity we
> normally associate with software testing. Contrast so-called subjective
> "usability testing" with objective testing to see if a qualitative
> requirement has been met. For example, ATM software might have a
> requirement that some percentage of walkup users be able to properly
> complete a transaction on first attempt. That's a testable requirement that
> QC can get its arms around without lapsing into poke and prod "testing".

Usability is qualitative, but it's not so nebulous and touchy-feely that
you can't apply some general principles. Apple and people who have worked
there have published a number of books on the subject; the principles
outlined in them should help you spot 90% of the most annoying
user-interface problems. The finer points come with experience and
usability testing during the design phase.

--
Michael Roeder -- mroeder at macromedia dot com
http://www.stopspam.org/usenet/faqs/faqs.html

 
 
 

Usability Testing... are we responsible?

Post by John Layma » Fri, 19 Jun 1998 04:00:00




Quote:> Usability is qualitative, but it's not so nebulous and touchy-feely that
> you can't apply some general principles.

Sure. But, the best way to apply these principles is to thoughtfully
incorporate them in testable requirements, before the software has been
built, so that they can be objectively tested. Subjective application of
the principles by testers, after the software has been programmed, leads to
several serious problems. It's certainly antithetical to the usual
philosophy of quality assurance effort, which is to reduce or eliminate
rework.
 
 
 

Usability Testing... are we responsible?

Post by Fergal O' Riorda » Fri, 19 Jun 1998 04:00:00


Any heard of "Commitment based management" is some a kin to the promise
keepers movement but for business. Any know anything about it I would love
to know as we are starting to implement where I work.
thanks

 
 
 

1. Developers are responsible for testing

Googolplex,

This is a prime example why developers should develop and not test !!
Recently, a web site design firm posted this in one of it newsgroups:

    "Validation can be done by the W3C validator for free, accessibility
features     can be tested by Bobby for free, load time can be done with a
stopwatch         (and that nifty IE5/win add-on that shows all the images
and d/l time on a         page - try it, or ImageReady, FireWorks, or many
other utilities), links can         be checked (and should be) by a human or
any number of shareware or             online utilities (search on "link
checking" at download.com for some                 samples), and usability
can be achieved through some pretty simple testing (I     refer you to Jakob
Nielsen, or an evolt article). You don't need to pay             people
without a clear understanding to do it for you.

    Ultimately, as developers, we are all responsible for testing our own
work.         Having another set of eyes review it is good, but paying
someone to do it is     often pointless. Few organizations can stay on top
of the technologies if all         they do is test, and cultivating in-house
talent is always more valuable."

I guess all of us testers should become developers.

Thanks

2. Ray Tracing leads wanted

3. Whom is responsible for System Testing?

4. publishing errors resulting in componants not working

5. CA-BC-Van QA Engineers - Functional, Usability & System Testing

6. Drive letters change themselves.

7. Recording Usability testing sessions

8. Hilbert's Tenth Problem for Rational Numbers

9. Usability testing web sites

10. Usability Acceptance Testing

11. Need a definition for usability testing

12. So where did all those Usability and Security testing topics go???

13. Usability Testing.