Saturday, November 8, 2008

Followup on usability testing... and a bit of a break

I'll be taking a bit of a break for a week as I take some time to relax, but in the meantime you might want to take a gander over at Lightspeed Venture Partner's blog. They have a great followup to their recent usability testing article which I commented on here.

In this post they go into depth on what sorts of testing are appropriate at various levels of development. Most of our work for entrepreneurs has focused on the Ideation phase of development, where LSVP recommends that you explore new ideas and opportunities, take the founders vision and add in the background developed during initial testing. Specifically Knowledge Athletes (aka KA one of our most successful clients - our first) has performed the following types of testing in their product roll out from LSVP's list:
  • Ethnographic field studies (KA's "in school trials")
  • Focus groups (KA has focus groups consisting of high school students at all levels, college students and corporate clients)
  • Diary studies (the unique nature of KA's product is that it IS a diary so users can comment and track their usage of the product IN the product itself)
  • Surveys (So far online user surveys have created a number of interesting new ideas for the product)
  • Data mining (As KA has created user experiences TONS of data is now available on how the product is used and when it has been successful. This data is leading not only to new development ideas, but also paradigm shifts in teaching methods)

Th original paper on this topic by Christian Rohrer of has a great chart that shows where studies work best and compares data source vs approach vs context of use. You can learn more about usability testing at this University of Texas site.

Alternatively Jakob Nielsen's book on usability testing (linked below) is widely regarded as being one of the best in the industry.