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published: April, 2002

Archives & Museum Informatics, 2002.
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License


Usability Engineering: High-Speed, Low-Cost User Testing for Museums on the Web
Paul Marty, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
Michael Twidale, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

Workshop: Usability Engineering

As museums reach out to ever wider audiences in the online community, it is important that they understand the needs and expectations of all their potential users, including those who have had limited experience with advanced information technologies. A poorly designed online user interface can mean the difference between satisfied users who find easy access to desired content materials and frustrated users who quickly grow irritated with a web site. Even the most sophisticated design can benefit from usability testing with representative users.

This workshop will explore how theories and techniques of human computer interaction can be applied to the context of online museums in a rapid and inexpensive manner. Participants will learn how to undertake a variety of usability studies to discover user difficulties with existing systems and to use the results of those findings to incrementally improve design using rapid paper prototyping techniques. The course will be heavily pragmatic, hands-on, and will directly address the challenge of performing usability analyses when designing museum web sites under tight constraints of budget and time.