User testing

Adrian Howard adrianh at
Thu May 17 09:48:23 BST 2007

On 17 May 2007, at 01:52, Kake L Pugh wrote:

> Hello.  Here's an idea which may have been brought to you by too  
> much gin and
> too little patience with people asserting things they have no  
> evidence for.
> We have open source code; we have open source design; why don't we  
> have open
> source user testing?  Jakob Nielsen has umpteen reports of proper  
> scientific
> testing of how people use websites and other applications, but they  
> all cost
> $$$ - which is perfectly understandable, because he's a business  
> and so needs
> to make money.
> Is it beyond us as a group to come up with things like a validatable
> questionnaire, or a cheaply-built eye-tracking device, or a couple  
> of people
> capable of performing interviews and doing content analysis on the  
> results?

There are groups trying to do this sort of thing. See <http://> and <> for example.

The problem is (wearing my usability hat - which people occasionally  
pay me to wear) is that it is sort of like having open tests for code  

There's some stuff that you can moderately easily automate, but most  
of the useful stuff comes from expert review. And their just aren't  
enough of them with free time to make it useful. I know I'd love to  
spend time on pro-bono usability work, but my free time is minimal -  
hell I've got a stack of CPAN modules I should be updating and some  
TPF grant blog entries that have needed writing for about a month :-)

It's also much harder to do remotely than coding, and that really  
gets in the way of being able to contribute in a useful manner in  
small moments of free time.

I think a better way of going about it, and the thing I try and do,  
is start educating developers in usability issues and practices. But  
I don't have the free time to organise that either :-)



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