There's no substitute for observing customers using your product
In a usability study we observe real users doing real work with your product or a prototype. There is no substitute for this feedback.
“I never believed it would be so hard to use. I never thought people would have used it this way.”
— Vice President, software development
We often hear customers blaming themselves, even when it's clearly the product at fault. We also hear customer say that things are working fine when they're clearly not getting their tasks done. That's why we do usability studies – watching them work helps us understand what's really happening. “This is my error. I have a habit of not reading things completely, so it’s not the system. It’s the user.”
It's easiest to observe a participant's reactions in person. But we can work with remote participants, too, using services like Webex or GoToMeeting.
The image at the top of this page shows a study setup for an iPad app. The camera over the iPad sends audio and video to observers and the facilitator. Observers may be in the next room, or in another city.
Testing early with prototypes lets us find problems before coding starts, saving time and money. It’s an important part of the process, just as debugging is part of software engineering.
We work with a small but representative group of users, based on personas and typical tasks. We carefully observe their behavior rather than doing detailed statistical analysis. Read a detailed description of how we run a usability study.
The usability report is brief and to the point, listing problems in categories, along with priorities and suggestions. We can create a highlights video as well.
“Hal conducted a usability study on my products. He was very flexible about the approach, ensuring we got good value for the money spent.”
— A security client