I just read this – DonnaM’s Writing memorable scenarios for usability testing. Good stuff!
To sum it up… when you do a usability test, you usually ask a bunch of scenario-type questions. Your test participant then tries to answer the question by finding an answer on your website. Easy enough, right?
The hard part is writing those questions! When doing a general test for the whole website, your questions have to cover lots of territory – you want at least one question for each “important thing” on your website, while at the same time realizing that no one’s going to sit through a grueling 200 question test (well, not unless you pay them actual money…)
And you want those questions to make sense to the participant. Librarian lingo should be removed (think monograph, reference, ILL, ILS, etc.), hints should be removed (no “go to this page, look in the upper left hand corner, and see if you can find such-and-such”), and
the question should be easy to read.
And DonnaM goes one more step – her post discusses giving the question a real-life scenario. That way, you make the question more vivid and emotional to the test participant. This helps the participant visualize the scenario, thus making it easier for the participant to remember. And ultimately helps the test participant add some realism to his/her answer (thus providing more useful information during the usability test).
Wow – lots to think about for those embarking on usability testing!