Usability + Steve Krug


 
Last night, I attended the Boston PHP meetup for Usability Speed Dating with Steve Krug.  My company was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be one of the websites that the attendees tested.  The process was fairly straightforward and very enlightening - I encourage each of you to read Rocket Surgery Made Easy and do these tests yourself.

Watching someone use a site that you've worked on or know well is extremely difficult.  You realize that the buttons or descriptions you put on the site that you thought were easily understood were actually roadblocks for many of the people attempting to use your site.  I found it hard to keep my hands to myself and not point to where the user should go.  The feedback that the users provided was also very interesting - as they moved through the site, they commented on what they were looking at, what confused them and hopefully, if we were lucky, what they liked.

What I came away with from this was that usability testing should be done frequently (once a month of possible) with a small group of users.  I'd suggest users that were not familiar with your product, what it does or how it helps.  The reason for this is that you get a general sense of whether your site (or product) is easy to use - Keep It Simple, Stupid!
I'll outline the basics here:
  1. Watch this video of a usability test
  2. View this page for resources
  3. Write a scenario (scroll to the bottom to see ours) that is very basic, should take the user 5-10 minutes to complete (maybe less, maybe more)
  4. Gather participants and start testing!
I encourage all of you to check out Steve's book(s), website and blog for more info.  For product managers, customer feedback and usability are two extremely important pieces of feedback that dictate the success of your product. 

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Sample Scenario:
  • URL to test: www.namefind.com
  • Scenario #1: Compare desired brand names
    • You're starting an online food deliver business and would like to select a business name. You only have $2000 to secure a domain name. You've brainstormed several business names with your partners: 
      1. Food To Go
      2. Deliver It
      3. Deliver It Online
      4. From A to B
    • Research these options for domain, social media and trademark availability. 

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