TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Usability testing of printed products? From:Charmaine Brandon <CBRANDON -at- HIBERNIABANK -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 18 Dec 1998 10:28:00 -0600
Coming from a teaching background, I suggest cultivating a relationship with one or two instructors and surveying both the instructors and their students over 3-4 course sessions. Most teachers develop aids/presentations to supplement course materials, and if their willing to share these with you, they'll be your best indication of what your instruction guides lack from the teacher perspective.
Similarly, in taking notes students use simpler formats, separate pertinent information from coursebook "fluff" and annotate what's presented with information they really need. Ask the instructors if they would be willing to have the students take notes from the courseware to prepare for classes, and then add their classnotes as an attachment (this could be a "graded" assignment). This an excellent way to get students to be proactive about learning. The students will be more informed and more apt to participate in classroom discussion, the teachers will enjoy teaching the class, and you'll have invaluable information on how your texts are used/can be improved.
cbrandon -at- hiberniabank -dot- com
>>> Tracy Boyington <tracy_boyington -at- OKVOTECH -dot- ORG> 12/18/98 09:58AM >>>
Has anyone done usability testing of their printed products? The
publications we want to test are *stand-alone* products, not hardware or
software documentation -- they are instructional materials that do not
accompany, or teach one how to use, any other particular product. They
are developed for courses that can take months or even years to
complete. We have done field testing of some publications to gather
comments from instructors, and we have SMEs validate the content and
assist with the design. But we want to develop a more formal kind of
test with input from instructors *and* students. I'm clueless, and all
the resources I can find focus on testing software and hardware. Any
ideas, suggestions, resources, etc. would be greatly appreciated.