Usability week 3

This week was one of the more educational weeks I’ve experienced during my masters program at Kent. It was therefore not a great week to go to Disney World. C’est la vie.

The reason this week felt so educational is because we were learning by doing… and not just learning by doing, but learning by doing it badly first. Making mistakes can be so instrumental in the long-term storage of knowledge.

The week began with a due date on Thursday, where half of the final assignment was due. In a discussion board, our peers could comment on our work so far. We could also see each other’s work and, based on this, create our final hand-ins.

We were creating a screener and a set of tasks via which we would test some problems with a pizza company’s website. The focus of the assignment seemed to be on getting the screener in a solid place.

I learned a LOT about what makes a screener question good and bad. One of the main things I learned about was asking questions in such a way that the respondent doesn’t know what information you want. Sometimes people want to take these usability tests because they get money afterwards, so they will adjust their answers. We have to avoid that situation. Of course, not all questions need to be couched, but some do.

I also heard a good tip about asking one open-ended question so you can screen respondents for shyness or inarticulacy. The last thing you want is to get someone into the usability test only to discover they don’t like “thinking aloud.”

I’m interesting to see where this assignment takes us next week. Until then, back to Disney World!

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