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Usability Evaluation

This is one of my favorite UX areas, Usability Evaluation. The main focus of Usability Evaluation is to gain knowledge about how well users learn and use the product/service to achieve their goals. It can also be a way to learn if users are satisfied with the solutions and what needs to be improved to satisfy their needs.

There are many different ways to perform Usability Evaluations and these are the methods I have used to gather feedback from users.

Guerrilla Testing

Guerrilla testing is a simplified version of usability testing. The tests take place in more public environments (cafes, parks, a square, or at a fair). There are of course advantages and disadvantages to this testing technique. When we did Guerrilla testing, we were trying to find the “bigger problems”, quite early in the process. It was a flexible way to quickly get out there and perform an inexpensive test that created an opportunity for small iterations. The downside was that it didn’t really give us any deeper insights and the amount of control we had over the test was quite limited. It was difficult to pick out specific user groups so it works best for services and products that can be used by several user groups, not just one.​

We saw the importance of planning ahead to get the best results.​

  • What is the goal of the test? (What are we trying to test)

  • Structure your planning for the test. (Digital or IRL)

  • What assets do we have? (Time, competence, budget)

  • Recruit participants in advance? (Time-saving)

  • Decide and create tasks (The task shouldn’t be overwhelming)

Performing Guerrilla Tests
  • The participants were instructed to perform a simple task by using the service in the environment they are in.

  • The collection of data was carried out by observing, thinking aloud (the participant explaining what is going through their mind), and before/after interviews.  

  • Guerrilla testing wasn’t and shouldn’t be longer than 10-15 mins.

After performing Guerrilla Tests

It was time to analyze the results. How did we analyze these results?

  • It may depend on who these results will be presented to and who will act on these results. It helped us going back and reviewing the goal with the test and from there, deciding on what it was we wanted to lift in our presentation that can could help us ahead in the process.

  • Organizing the collected data can also be helpful to create a structure and pick out the most important elements. In this stage, we can try looking for themes and recurring pain points. Identifying problems and explaining what the problems are. (some problems may be harder to understand, especially if it isn't the technical area of the audience that you are presenting for.)

Remember: It takes time to plan, perform, and analyze. Let's not be hard on ourselves.

Heuristic Evaluation

It is an inexpensive method that is used quite often to analyze services and see how well that service is designed according to the Ten Usability Heuristics. Start by reviewing the service and write how well the service is living up to these ten heuristics. We wrote a summary of the whole service when we performed Heuristic Evaluation. This document was then presented to the client.

Ten Heuristic Evaluation - NN Group.png
#1: Visibility of system status

The design should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within a reasonable amount of time.

#2: Match between system and the real world

The design should speak the users' language. Use words, phrases, and concepts familiar to the user, rather than internal jargon. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.

#3: User control and freedom

Users often perform actions by mistake. They need a clearly marked "emergency exit" to leave the unwanted action without having to go through an extended process.

#4: Consistency and standards

Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform and industry conventions.

#5: Error prevention

Good error messages are important, but the best designs carefully prevent problems from occurring in the first place. Either eliminate error-prone conditions or check for them and present users with a confirmation option before they commit to the action.

#6: Recognition rather than recall

Minimize the user's memory load by making elements, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the interface to another. Information required to use the design (e.g. field labels or menu items) should be visible or easily retrievable when needed.

#7: Flexibility and efficiency of use

Shortcuts — hidden from novice users — may speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the design can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions.

#8: Aesthetic and minimalist design

Interfaces should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in an interface competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.

#9: Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors

Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no error codes), precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution.

#10: Help and documentation

It’s best if the system doesn’t need any additional explanation. However, it may be necessary to provide documentation to help users understand how to complete their tasks.

Presentation

A presentation can be held for the department, where each area of the service is covered according to these ten Heuristics and a formal written document can be presented or sent out incase you want to go back and review it again.

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