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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:
November 7, 2010

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License

Usability Lab, I
Paul Marty, Florida State University, USA
Michael Twidale, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

Session: Usability Lab

On Friday, March 21, a User Testing Laboratory will run all day long. This is the morning session. Both sessions are structured identically.

The purpose of the session is to provide an opportunity for conference participants to 1) observe user testing of museum web sites; 2) discover some of the problems users have with museum web sites; 3) volunteer to participate as user testers; and 4) volunteer their site to be tested.

How will the session be organized?

A new site will be tested every 30 minutes (including time for audience comments and questions). This should make it easy for individuals to observe and participate in this session without having to sacrifice a large amount of time. Conference participants are encouraged to drift in and out of the session all day long.

How can I participate?

Volunteer user testers will be selected at random from the audience. Anyone can signup to have their web site tested; there will be a sign-up sheet posted at the conference. Sites to be tested will not be evaluated in advance.

What will happen during each test?

Each 30 minute test will begin by announcing the museum web site to be evaluated and asking for volunteer test users from the audience. The volunteer users will leave the room while the site?s owners describe several typical scenarios of use for their site. These scenarios will be converted into tasks which the test users will be asked to perform.

The site being tested will be projected on a screen for the audience to follow the users? experiences. The users will be brought back into the room, and Michael Twidale and Paul Marty will administer the user tests. A variety of testing techniques and usability methods will be demonstrated throughout the day; we will emphasize the ?think aloud? method so that the audience can easily follow the test users? thoughts.

At the conclusion of each test, the users, site owners, administrators, and audience members will discuss the results of the test, the lessons learned, and design recommendations for improving museum web sites.