Practical Usability Testing

Subject: Practical Usability Testing
From: "Amy Janczy" <Amy_Janczy -at- uclid -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L Posting" <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>, "Vanessa Andrews" <vandrews -at- modernmuse -dot- com>, "Theresa Gray" <tagray -at- execpc -dot- com>, "Terri Gregory" <terri -dot- gregory -at- ssec -dot- wisc -dot- edu>, "Paul Prosser" <pross -at- engr -dot- wisc -dot- edu>, "Pam Hudson" <hudson -at- gcg -dot- com>, "Mark Clear" <clear -at- ims -dot- net>, "Laura Widder" <lawidder -at- execpc -dot- com>, "Barb Kauffold" <bjkauffold -at- aol -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 15:51:04 -0600

I've been asked to perform usability testing for the documentation for our
main product, which is a plug-in for AutoCAD, used primarily by GIS
professionals. I hope to have onsite access to at least a few users in the
immediate area. This is a new product (sales began in late December) so
there are not that many users, period.

Unfortunately, I've been here less than 2 months and haven't yet had the
opportunity to meet any users, or even sit in on training sessions, although
I hope to do that in the next few weeks. [Needless to say, we are a startup
software, there's no money for consultants!]

I'm at at loss for how to start....Can anyone provide me with any practical
tips for how to do a "quick and dirty" usability test that can help point
out key problems with the documentation? If no personal experiences come to
mind, any book recommendations would also help. I was referred to the STC
anthology "Practical Approaches to Usability Testing for Technical
Documentation." Title sounds good, but can't find reviews of it on the Web.

Amy Janczy, Technical Writer
UCLID Software, LLC

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