April 11-14, 2007
San Francisco, California

Workshops: Description

Hands On Usability Testing

Paul Marty, Florida State University, USA
Michael Twidale, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

This full-day workshop will provide a discussion-based, hands-on, and very interactive introduction to usability analysis. The workshop will emphasize high-speed user testing and will directly address the challenges of performing user testing under tight constraints of budget and time. Participants will learn to use rapid and inexpensive methods to test the effectiveness and usability of their web sites and to discover the potential difficulties encountered by their on-line visitors.

Through guided explorations and small group activities, participants will learn:

  • how the theories and techniques of human computer interaction can be applied to online museums, quickly and inexpensively;
  • how user testing can help uncover difficulties with the designs of existing websites;
  • how the results of user testing can be used to incrementally improve designs; and
  • how rapid prototyping techniques can be used to evaluate and implement those improvements quickly and easily.

Over the course of the day, participants will be involved in four areas:

  • Lecture/discussion about the importance of usability analysis for museum websites;
  • Hands-on demonstrations of user testing for museum websites;
  • Hands-on practice in developing and evaluating representative user tests in small groups;
  • Hands-on practice with rapid prototyping techniques to improve design using rapid user testing methods.

Why should you consider this workshop?

As the number of online museum visitors continues to grow, it becomes even more imperative that museum webmasters understand the needs and expectations of these individuals. It is no longer uncommon for museums to have more online visitors than face-to-face visitors, and yet, most museum professionals know less about their online visitors than their face-to-face visitors. This lack of understanding can mean the difference between satisfied users who find easy access to desired content materials and frustrated users who quickly grow irritated with a Web site and leave, taking their business elsewhere.

Why usability?

Museums devote significant resources to producing excellent content, but this investment often fails to achieve its full potential due to simple errors in usability, such as problems in access or navigation. Usability analysis helps you determine whether your online visitors are satisfied with the online experiences you provide. Your best guess is simply not good enough; the only way to know for sure that you are satisfying the needs of your online visitors is to evaluate your Web site with representative users.

What will you learn?

This workshop will provide you with the skills you need to conduct user testing quickly, easily, and inexpensively. It will show you how a relatively low cost usability analysis can significantly improve the value of your on-line content. You will learn how user testing can help you evaluate your museum's Web site, and how to use the results to inform the continued improvement of your museum visitors' on-line experiences.

Who should attend?

The workshop is open to anyone interested in improving the quality of museum Web sites. No prior experience of usability analysis, technical Web development, or cognitive psychology is required. If you have been thinking about user testing your museum's Web site, but worry that you don't know how, or that usability analysis will be too expensive and time-consuming, then this workshop is for you. Let us introduce you to the magic of user testing.

Workshop: Usability [Full Day]

Keywords: usability, user testing, HCI