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David Lee King

Help in Question Writing for Usability Tests



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!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://cogscilibrarian.blogspot.com/ Stephanie Willen Brown

    thanks for the tips & link!

    One thing that is really important imho when creating usability test questions is that your questions test the site you’re testing, and not another piece of web real estate.

    For instance, you don’t want to ask a question about finding books in the OPAC if you’re testing the functionality of the overall library web site. It’s easy to get these mixed up (after all, our patrons do!), but it’s important to keep the questions focused on what you’re testing.

    Instead of asking “how would you find if the library has a DVD version of the movie ‘the Matrix’?” ask “where would you go to see if the library has …” That way, you’re testing the participant’s ability to find the OPAC on your site rather than on their ability to search the OPAC for “the Matrix.”

  • http://cogscilibrarian.blogspot.com/ Stephanie Willen Brown

    thanks for the tips & link!

    One thing that is really important imho when creating usability test questions is that your questions test the site you're testing, and not another piece of web real estate.

    For instance, you don't want to ask a question about finding books in the OPAC if you're testing the functionality of the overall library web site. It's easy to get these mixed up (after all, our patrons do!), but it's important to keep the questions focused on what you're testing.

    Instead of asking “how would you find if the library has a DVD version of the movie 'the Matrix'?” ask “where would you go to see if the library has …” That way, you're testing the participant's ability to find the OPAC on your site rather than on their ability to search the OPAC for “the Matrix.”