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At the November meeting...
UI and Usability Testing
With Kay Corry Aubrey, Usability Resources, Inc.

Kay Corry Aubrey has been a user interface designer for 12 years. She runs Usability Resources Inc, which does UI Design and usability testing for Boston-area companies. She has designed web and desktop-based software for Oracle Pharmaceuticals, AptSoft Corporation, Perot Time 0, IBM and Lotus. Kay holds an MS in Information Systems from Northeastern Graduate School of Engineering, an MSW from Boston University, and a BA from McGill University. She has taught at the Interactive Factory and Northeastern University.

Kay spoke about the process of planning, administering, and reporting on the feedback from usability testing. She reviewed the mechanics of running usability tests, which seem like a simple concept but are actually quite involved and labor intensive.

Additionally, Kay talked about the benefits of running tests at various points in the software development cycle (e.g., when all you have is a concept, pre-alpha, developed product, integration testing), and the different artifacts you can use before you have a real product.

A secondary theme of her talk was how to weave usability testing around the software development process so that you gain visibility and credibility. She spoke about the importance of involving engineers, product managers, and other stake holders in the process. Kay discussed how to collect data that is "bulletproof". Finally, she explained how to help your team make sense of the data collected and come to agreement on how to fix and prioritize usability issues. She taught us how to run usability tests that produce fairly reliable data at a low cost (except for your time!) She even presented video clips of tests that she has run in the past..

Posted: 10 December 2002
Bob Lamm, SMPTE/New England Newsletter/Web Page Editor
blamm@cync.com