Week 10 – Usability Testing

March 9, 2015

This week’s subject of Usability Testings coincidentally follows a very interesting week at work where we had some, at times, heated dialogue about what Usability Testing really is and how it’s not the same or similar to the creative or design process. I maintain they are separate. As part of a much larger project, we’ve had significant debate on time, cost, and effectiveness of conducting true Usability Testing. It’s likely we’ll find a middle-of-the-ground solution between activating our internally trained usability developers, or hiring an external agency to complete the design, testing and recommendations.

The first article we read about the 4 forgotten principles of usability testing was great in framing out what is, and more important what is not a part of Usability Testing. I especially appreciated the idea of “Red Routes” to help identify which consumer/user paths on a site are the most critical for testing. I also appreciated the comment about avoiding questions related to “how would you like it to …?” of the respondents.

Additionally, the recommendations on how to shape a testing pool based on average users was interesting. While I agree that having a completely diverse and properly sampled group can be challenging when only testing six to 12 subjects/users, I do agree that having a population that includes both current users of your brand (or aware of your brand), as well as completely new users will be beneficial to the testing results.

I also enjoyed the video from Lynda.com on how to create paper prototypes for testing. I completely agree that having tangible, near life-like prototypes can be night and day in the respondents answers to a question or task. In the last round of Usability Testing I completed for a project, we used flat printouts. The video really helped showcase how some additional planning and thought into what’s being prompted of the respondents can help create near real-life interactions.

In writing this post, I came across this website which was very interesting, usability.gov. It looks to contain not just best practices and SOP on usability, but also how-to’s and resources on completing/conducting your own testing.


  • What would be a few differences of Usability Testing for a content marketing driven site, versus an eCommerce focused site?
  • If you were conducting Usability Testing for a new business’ website and didn’t have an idea of the “red routes” absent user traffic, what are some sources or how could you frame these user paths?

Post Tags:

Prototyping, Red Routes, Sampling, Test and Learn, Usability Testing, UX,