We bring actual users into the usability lab and ask them to complete a series of tasks with your website or software. Observational, user satisfaction, general aesthetic appeal, and performance data are collected, summarized, and used as the basis for design recommendations. The following data is collected:
- task success
- time to complete tasks
- number of links/steps to complete tasks
- whether user became “lost”
- user perceptions of ease of use and appeal
- usefulness of the information on your site
- user satisfaction with the site
- user eye movements
Our usability testing computer uses a 19” monitor integrated with the Tobii X120 eyetracking system, which can be used to detect and collect participant eye-gaze data during testing. The eye-tracker samples the position of the user’s eyes on an average of every 25ms (i.e., 60Hz) and is characterized by the unobtrusive addition of the eyetracking hardware (e.g., high resolution camera and near infra-red light-emitting diodes) to the monitor frame. This design aspect helps promote more natural user behavior by not placing unnatural restrictions on participants (e.g., helmets, head-rests).
Usability experts in the Software Usability Research Lab (SURL) will check your website or software for violations of usability standards, inconsistencies, usability, efficiency, and overall look-and-feel. In addition, recommendations will be made to fix any problems identified.
The first step in any software or website development project is to understand your end users and their environment. SURL will help you analyze your user’s online needs, expectations of services, terminology, and experiences using a variety of methodologies. These include focus groups, interviews, questionnaires, card sorting, and online surveys. SURL uses SurveyMonkey, Qualtrics, and SPSS software to develop customized online surveys to solicit user demographics and input. All of this information is used to help develop user profiles and personas.
The SURL team is continuously researching a variety of issues in human-computer interaction, including those impacting software and website usability, onscreen reading, handheld devices, and eyetracking. In addition to being presented at national conferences and submitted to HCI journals, summaries of this research are published in the Usability News newsletter. Usability News is a free web newsletter that is targeted to practitioners.