Userfocus Usability Newsletter, November 2009

Welcome to the November edition of the Userfocus usability newsletter.

Message from the Editor

November 12th — next Thursday — is one of those rare events in the usability calendar: an entire day devoted to usability. Now in its 5th year, World Usability Day is about reducing complexity and increasing access to products and services. Never afraid to take on the big themes, this year the organisers are focusing on sustainability and you can get involved too. The World Usability day web site lists scores of events that are taking place, many of them online. If nothing else, this kind of initiative is a simple way for you to raise the profile of usability within your organisation: why not run an open day and show off your usability lab, or hold a lunchtime discussion about the usability of your company's web site?

This month's article is about usability testing with hard-to-find participants. It's not too far from the 'sustainability' theme, since the article shows you how you can make do with a substitute when you can't get to the real thing.

I hope you enjoy this month's newsletter.

David Travis

Feature article: Usability testing with hard-to-find participants

For most products, it's easy to track down participants for a usability test. But there are some products where end-users are difficult to find and recruit. For these products, it's better to use surrogate users as a proxy for genuine users than not to usability test at all, but you must manage the risks appropriately. Read the article in full: Usability testing with hard-to-find participants.

What we're reading

Some interesting usability-related articles that got our attention over the last month:

Usability Training: Now Booking

Intranet Usability, November 24-25, London

For intranet developers who want to help employees find and use content quickly and easily, "Intranet Usability" is a 2-day immersion seminar that gives delegates hands-on experience with several usability tools and techniques. Unlike web usability courses, this intranet-specific workshop contains examples of award-winning intranets for delegates to compare their own intranet against. More information about this training course: Intranet Usability training.

How to carry out a usability expert review, December 10 2009, London

For people in design teams who need to spot usability problems in prototypes and finished products, "How to carry out a usability expert review" is a 1-day seminar that teaches delegates cost-effective methods to evaluate designs. Unlike courses in usability testing, this seminar teaches delegates how to find and fix usability problems without involving end users. More information about this training course: Expert review training.

Web Usability, January 20-21, London

For web designers who want hands-on experience with usability tools and techniques, "Web Usability" is a 2-day immersion seminar that shows delegates how to boost sales and conversion rates, increase usage and improve customer satisfaction. Unlike shorter introductory courses, this in-depth workshop covers the entire design and development lifecycle. More information about this training course: Web Usability training.

User Experience quotation of the month

"Microsoft in a recent survey found that most consumers use only 10% of the features on offer in Microsoft Word. In other words, some 90% of this software is clutter that obscures the few features people actually want." — The Economist.

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