Usability studies are not nearly as difficult to perform as rocket surgery or brain science 😉
Traditionally, usability studies were outsourced at exorbitant cost, but we’ve seen that the same results can be had using
a little imagination and a cornucopia of software tools we have readily available.
This NIH Web Site captures the essentials of the process and is the epitome of research based Web design.
Concerned about creating an online form? Try using a web-based tool like Survey Monkey that walks you through the form creation process, collects the information via web or email, and pushes out statistics you can use in any spreadsheet. It’s free to try with a starter set of 10 questions.
Another level of interaction that provides more detailed information about how users navigate your Web Site is scenario analysis. Offer up a challenge to a sampling of your user base and watch them noodle through a typical query. You can use a web-based collaboration tool like DimDim to remotely; watch and record the users computer interaction while simultaneously recording the two way Q&A over the telephone.
We’ve also experimented with a piece of software by Mind Design Systems called UTE Runner. This application helps you build scenarios, gather user responses, and then compiles the data into charts and Word documents.
It’s free for fedgov users via a partnership with usability.gov.