Usability Testing Workshop

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Daniel Workman, Senior Human Factors Engineer and Coordinator of the Usability Science Evaluation Research (USER) Laboratory at Wang, and Marilyn Coleman, Usability Engineer with the American Institutes of Research (AIR), led an information-packed workshop on usability testing on Saturday, May 2, at Wang Labs in Lowell. The combination of their expertise and the participants' questions and observations from their own experience could have easily extended the program for the full day.

Dan and Marilyn presented the whats, whys and hows of usability testing. To demonstrate an actual example of a usability test, Marilyn brought a telephone answering machine and accompanying user manual. The workshop participants practiced identifying the audience, defining usability goals, and finally viewing videotapes of the actual tests carried out on this product.

Dan gave the group a tour of the usability lab at Wang, showing us its sophisticated equipment and explaining the procedures he follows before, during and after he conducts product and documentation tests. He then picked a "willing" subject from the group and allowed us to see first-hand how a test is conducted, and how much information can be gained about the product and the documentation within a relatively short time.

I recorded some highlights of the workshop from my perspective:

Barbara Casaly is a contract-writer working in the Boston area.


© 2000 by STC Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Originally published July/August 1992 in the Boston Broadside