Expert usability evaluation aims to leverage an expert, or team of experts, experience via traditional heuristic evaluation. This is possible because:
- Usability is an inherent part of digital technologies. The quality of interaction can be measured, assessed and reported on by an expert.
- Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) researchers and Interaction Design professionals have developed evaluation methods that are robust, objective and provide reliable metrics.
At InterAccess therefore this combination of remote usability testing and expert usability evaluation will be used to give you a realistic view of what works, what doesn’t (and why).
Is usability testing bad science?
In short, yes it often is but doesn’t mean it isn’t still super useful. Why do we say bad science?
- Sample sizes are too small in real world tests to gain strong, statistically relevant data.
- Usability test participants will also often just ‘miss’ issues with a UI, that may be glaringly obvious to the usability evaluator and relevant to either the users AT needs or modality of interaction.
What does this show us? The role of a good test facilitator is critical.
- In practice testing is always an artificial solution. Testing in the lab, or in the field is a depiction of usage and not the real situation itself. However, having the user at home or in their own comfortable environment may be a happy by product of the current COVID situation.
- Even good test results do not prove that a product works. Even with positive test results it is not a guarantee that a website or app will work. There may be issues missed, or just not deemed substantial enough to base design decisions on.
- Participants are rarely fully representative of the target population. We aim to test with as diverse a range of users as possible, but we can’t test with ‘everyone’.
- Testing (per se) may not always be the best technique to use. Expert evaluation for example, may be a better technique in some cases – and we can provide this as a service. The final point (a la Rubens) is important. For example, from observing a test, it may be that a user is on the surface, having problems using a site or app. What if the user is struggling with their AT? What if the problem is with the user’s lack of knowledge, and not with the accessibility or usability of the service? A good usability test facilitator will be qualified to make judgement calls on what actions may or may not need to be taken using a combination of their own experience and the results of a test.
InterAccess combination of usability testing and expert evaluation and reporting, is a valuable service that can help you in your component testing and dev sprints, and as a part of validation testing at the end of a SDLC.
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