Re: Online Help/Usability

Subject: Re: Online Help/Usability
From: Bill Swallow <bill_swallow -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 21:30:15 -0800 (PST)

--- Wangeci W <kairitu -at- hotmail -dot- com> wrote:
> I'm currently designing a usability study for an
> online help system. Does
> anyone have experience with testing documentation? I
> am particularly
> interested in testing users - the product we've been
> documenting has a wide
> spectrum of users(i.e. different characteristics),
> and I'm not sure we can
> duplicate that variety in the study. How valid is
> the study without full
> user representation?

Full user representation? Is that even possible
without testing everyone under the sun?

I've conducted online Help usability testing using a
usability lab. We had the machine set up in an
isolated room with several remote-controlled cameras.
We observed via camera and microphone. The user was
given a set of tasks and was instructed to use the
Help whenever in doubt. We asked the user to think
aloud at all times. We viewed screen navigation,
facial expressions, hand and eye movements, notes
jotted down on paper, body fidgetting... you name it.

In the end we determined we could have WAY too much
fun with the lab. *g* We also were able to spot
several problems with the help, and determined that
people are just too damn different to design one
system that caters to each person's mindset or preferences.

Bill Swallow
Information Design & Development Professional
bill_swallow -at- yahoo -dot- com -
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