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Putting awareness into practice: practical steps for conducting usability tests

Booth, Helen and Craven, Jenny (2006) Putting awareness into practice: practical steps for conducting usability tests. Library review, 55 (3). pp. 179-194. ISSN 0024-2535

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Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describes the methods and findings of two research projects undertaken to explore user behaviour and usability issues relating to the use of Web-based resources by people with disabilities. Design/methodology/approach – Whilst the aims of the research differed, the methods adopted were similar – including observation, talk aloud protocols, questionnaires and focus groups. Findings – The findings from both studies provided evidence of the problems faced by disabled users when using Web-based resources. It provided evidence of the types of features users liked and disliked, how they overcame navigational problems and what types of features enhanced their experience, all of which can be fed back into recommendations for the design of electronic resources. Practical implications – The richness of the data collected for both studies confirmed the importance of involving users in accessibility and usability assessments. Analysis of both the findings and the methods for both studies also enabled a checklist to be developed, outlining issues that should be taken into consideration when planning a usability test. Originality/value – Document analysis of past and current usability studies revealed that suggested methods are often directed more towards expert usability testing, rather than managing the user testing in-house. Although it may be preferable to engage an expert, in reality practical guidance is also needed. The checklist aims to address gaps in usability advice identified, by providing practical guidance to enable providers and developers of web-based resources to conduct their own effective usability testing.

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