What is usability testing?

As you may know (if you follow my blog, twitter or are friends with me on Facebook) that I have been recruiting for Boston Pizza’s usability testing for our new website. Once I blogged, twittered and facebooked (not sure if that is even a word!) about it I had a flood of emails and messages asking what exactly was entailed. This week, I decided I should write my blog post to explain usability testing.

Here the Wikipedia’s version of the answer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usability_testing

Usability testing is a technique used to evaluate a product by testing it on users. This can be seen as an irreplaceable usability practice, since it gives direct input on how real users use the system.[1] This is in contrast with usability inspection methods where experts use different methods to evaluate a user interface without involving users.

Usability testing focuses on measuring a human-made product’s capacity to meet its intended purpose. Examples of products that commonly benefit from usability testing are web sites or web applications, computer interfaces, documents, or devices. Usability testing measures the usability, or ease of use, of a specific object or set of objects, whereas general human-computer interaction studies attempt to formulate universal principles.

And usability testing in Layman’s terms:

A way to test if a website is going to be easy to use. It is where we ask real people to perform tasks on a website. If the users find the tasks easy, while the website has accomplished it’s goals and if the users find the tasks difficult to complete then the website needs some work.

Last week, we tested the new Boston Pizza website. We recruited users from across the country. For this reason, we tested some users remotely and some came into the Habanero office.

Here are some great articles on to two types of testing we did.

Lab usability testing ( where users actually come to see you ) http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2006/11/lab-usability-testing-what-why-how-much.html

Remote Usability Testing: http://www.ok-cancel.com/archives/article/2006/07/guide-to-remote-usability-testing.html

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