Usability testing of Web sites

Subject: Usability testing of Web sites
From: David Orr <dorr -at- ORRNET -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L (E-mail)" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2000 12:39:10 -0500

Ted Hornoi-Centerwall questioned whether there is a surge in usability
testing on Web sites. Our company, through an affiliate The Usability Group
(principal is Jeff Rubin, author of the best selling Handbook of Usability
Testing), has been doing usability testing in the Midwest for five years.
Jeff and Dave Rinehart, our Atlanta partner, have been at usability testing
for 10 years. I personally have been at it since 1983. I can tell you that
five years ago 95% of our usability testing was done on application
software. Now 95% is done on Web sites. We didn't change our marketing until
the demand for Web site testing was obvious.

We get several calls a month from companies wanting to do Web site usability
testing. About a third are from corporations wanting to test their Web
sites. About a third are from martketing organizations that are testing Web
sites for clients. The final third are from Web developers. We rarely get a
call from traditional application software developers or clients.

The UPA (Usability Professionals Association) had about 700 attendees at its
recent conference. Its usual attendance has been about 300-400. The growth
is driven by the Web.

Most of the Web testing projects are driven by marketing people and product
managers. It comes out of their budget for research and development. Very
little is driven by technical people, though they often attend as
observation team members.

The name for usability testing has even been changed by some marketing types
to "user experience testing."

Academic study or not, this trend of the Web driving usability testing is

M. David Orr
Orr & Associates Corporation

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