User-Research: Quantifying Usability
The normal question most people ask is, "How do you know is a site is usable?"
The answer is user research. At aU we make use of numerous usability testing methods and user-research methods to test our designs and interfaces.
User research is the act of testing a design with actual users. User research allows us to; see first hand how users interact with websites, determine where users run into problems, and gleam information on how user experience can be improved.
These methods include; user observation, task analysis, questionnaires, and interviews.
- Nielsen, October 1998
User-Research Testing Methods
Some of the methods used during the planning and requirements stage of the website design process.
- Think Aloud Protocol- A method of testing that encourages users to say what they are thinking and why they are taking certain actions while working through defined tasks.
- Co-Discovery - Similar to think aloud protocol, except with two users interacting with each other to complete tasks.
- Screen Capture and Eye-Tracking - All of the users mouse actions comments and eye movements are recorded while they complete tasks. This can be done in combination with any other testing method.
- Heuristic Evaluation - Experts check a website to determine if it follows established usability guidelines.
- Cognitive Walkthroughs - Members of the design team work through predetermined tasks to test the usability of the website design.
- Checklists - Usability experts work through the website design to ensure that it meets a predetermined set of goals.