RE: reader feedback.

Subject: RE: reader feedback.
From: Peterson Karen <Peterson_Karen -at- prc -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L, a list for all technical communication issues" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 17:46:28 -0400

What about usability testing? This is probably the most accurate, direct way
to get the information you want.

Surveys can give inaccurate results, because users interpret the questions
and possibly answers differently. In focus groups, users often misrepresent
what they need, understand, don't understand, and don't need. Why? Because
they're not using the tool while you ask them. Have you ever been in a
situation where someone says to you, "Well, why didn't you ask?" and you
reply "I didn't know what to ask you?" This can happen with focus groups as

For more info on usability testing, see these (they don't all specifically
address paper documentation, but you'll get the idea):

* Guerrilla HCI: Using Discount Usability Engineering to Penetrate the
Intimidation Barrier by Jakob Nielsen, 1994

* Usability PS performance support for conducting usability evaluations by
Gary J. Dickelman

*'s articles online

* Fear and Loathing on the Keyboard: Why we should hate software that's
smarter than we are and what to do about it. by Gary J. Dickelman

* User and Task Analysis for Interface Design by JoAnn Hackos and Ginny
available at

* Handbook of Usability Testing by Rubin
available at

* Usability Engineering by Jakob Nielsen
available at

Good luck!

"Honey, you lied when you said you loved me. And I had no cause to doubt
you. But I'd rather go on hearing your lies, than go on living without
--Elvis, "Are You Lonesome Tonight?"

Karen Peterson
Peterson_Karen -at- prc -dot- com

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