Userfocus Usability Newsletter, September 2008

Welcome to the September edition of the Userfocus usability newsletter.

Message from the Editor

Over the last year or so, a few people have asked us to run remote usability tests, usually because they want to test with customers outside the UK.

At the same time, we've noticed a growing interest in usability benchmarking, where the usability of a web site is measured and compared to the competition. I wrote about this a few months ago in an article describing ISO 20282, a usability standard for measuring the usability of every day products.

We spent some time looking around for a suitable service that we could recommend for remote, benchmark tests, but couldn't find anything in the UK. We identified a couple of services in the US, but they offered much more functionality than our clients needed (and they had a bloated price tag to match).

Never wanting to be beaten, we went into a huddle and prototyped our ideal system. We then threw a Perl programmer and a JavaScript expert into the mix and pretty soon we had a working system. We doubt that the launch of our remote usability testing solution will have the same impact on the world as Google Chrome, but we do think it provides a valuable and cost-effective way for you to measure the usability of your web site with 200+ users.

As part of the development of this new service, we're building a consumer testing panel. If you know anyone who might be interested in taking part in usability tests of web sites, please let us know.

Feature Article: How to run an unmoderated usability test

In an unmoderated usability test, a computer automates the process of administering a usability test. This means you can test with much larger samples than with a conventional test, calculate reliable measures of usability and feel confident that you're capturing your customer's context of use. Read the article in full: How to run an unmoderated usability test

Usability training in the USA through Blueprint Usability

For some time now we've been looking at ways of bringing our great selection of training courses to the US, and at last we've come up with a solution. We have partnered with Blueprint Usability, a Chicago-based user experience firm. If you're based in the US, take a look at Blueprint's upcoming training schedule. Their next course is "GUI Usability" scheduled for Nov 18-19 and like us they'll be running a different course every month.

Usability Training: Now Booking

Web Usability Training, October 7-8 2008, 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.

Intranet Usability, November 4-5 2008, 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.

Web accessibility for developers and designers, December 2 2008, London

For developers and designers who need to create accessible web sites, "Web accessibility for developers and designers" is a 1-day seminar that shows delegates how to design accessible web pages and how to evaluate web pages for accessibility. This seminar provides a practical path through the legislation, describing what you need to do to meet the minimum requirements, how to retrofit inaccessible pages and how to make sure new content is accessible. More information about this training course: Web Accessibility training.

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