Lab User Testing

What Lab User Testing Is:

Lab user testing creates a controlled environment to reveal and/or validate usability issues. Representatives from the target user population attempt to use the product or web site in a simulated "real world" setting to accomplish "real world" tasks.

  • Exploratory tests are conducted when there are no opinions or preconceived ideas about where and how significant the usability issues are. Users are allowed to freely explore and use the product or site.
  • Confirmatory tests are conducted when there is evidence that specific usability issues exists, or there is a suspicion that specific issues will prove problematic for users and confirmation is wanted/needed. Users are given tasks, exercises, or assignments specifically designed to address those issues.

When Lab User Testing Takes Place:

Lab user testing can be done during any phase of the product development life cycle.

How Lab User Testing is Accomplished:

It requires :

  • Conducting a walkthrough evaluation to familiarize evaluators with the product or site being evaluated.
  • Developing a Task Scenario. The tasks that have been identified as most likely to expose problems or concerns (anticipated or otherwise) are written into "exercises" and given to users to perform during the evaluation.
  • Observing users executing the tasks in the Task Scenario and collecting data and feedback.
  • Organizing, analyzing, and interpreting the data and feedback
  • Presenting the results. This includes identifying the problems users encountered, giving the reasons for the problems (based on usability guidelines and principles and human factors research whenever possible), and offering possible solutions.

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