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published: April, 2002

Archives & Museum Informatics, 2002.
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License


Usability Lab
Paul Marty, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
Michael Twidale, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

Interaction: Usability Lab

On Friday, April 19, a "User Testing" laboratory will run all day long. The purpose of the session is to provide an opportunity for conference participants to 1) observe user testing of museum Web sites in action; 2) volunteer to participate as a user test subject and discover some of the problems users have on unknown sites; and 3) volunteer their site to be tested. We encourage people to drift in and out of the session all day long--as they move, for example, from one talk to another. Each user test will last 20 minutes or so (with time for audience comments and questions). Therefore, it will be very easy for individuals to observe and even participate in this session without having to sacrifice a large amount of time.

Mike Twidale and Paul Marty will administer the user tests. Sites to be tested would not be evaluated in advance and volunteer users would be selected at random.

Anyone can signup for a time to have their site to be tested. Volunteer user testers will be selected at random. The volunteer user will temporarily leave the room while the owner of the site describes what they consider a typical scenario of use--something the average visitor to the site would be trying to do. These scenarios will then converted into a task, which together with some randomly selected standard tasks, will be given to the user to perform during the test.

The site will be projected on a big screen for the audience to follow the user's experience. The user is then brought back into the room and we conduct a simple, low-cost, high-speed user test. Twidale and Marty will demonstrate a variety of testing techniques throughout the day--but will emphasize the thinking aloud method so that the audience can easily follow the test subject's thoughts.

After the conclusion of each test, the user, site owner, test administrators and audience will discuss briefly what was learned.