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The books on this list have done more than sell a lot of copies (some have only sold a modest amount). They have been influential in providing material that has helped establish the usability profession. 1. A Practical Guide to Usability Testing by Joe Dumas & Ginny. Redish (1993) One of three books on the mechanics of usability testing. It also includes a detailed section

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Usability doesn't have to be expensive, time consuming or involve lots of users. Jakob Nielsen popularized this discount approach two decades ago. A focus on finding and fixing problems by testing early and often with small-samples generates major insights. More recently Steve Krug has taken this informal approach to the masses by encouraging website owners to spend a few minutes a month watching users(or your

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Just how common are usability problems in websites and software? Surprisingly there is very little out there on the frequency of usability problems. Part of the reason is that most usability testing happens early in the development phase and is at best documented for an internal audience. Once a website is launched or product released what little usability testing is done is typically more on

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Items in questionnaires are typically worded neutrally so as not to state concepts in the extreme. They are like an even-tempered friend—they have opinions but aren't overly optimistic or chronically pessimistic about things. What happens when items in a questionnaire or survey are worded in the extreme? Two years ago we tried a little experiment at the annual UPA conference to find out. We wanted

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Subtle changes to response items in surveys and questionnaires can affect responses. Many of the techniques for item and scale construction in user-research come from marketing and psychology. Some topics can be controversial, sensitive or confusing and so having the right question with the right response options is important. Attitudes about usability aren't typically controversial so you're likely to get more honest answers. Consequently, slight

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You are ultimately measuring an interface not users. Tell the users you are measuring the interface not them. Usability testing is not QA testing. Usability testing is finding problems with user interactions. QA testing is identifying problems with code that also impacts the user. Usability is a combination of user-attitudes and performance about an interface. There is no usability thermometer or survey, usability is an

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A Heuristic evaluation is a process where someone trained in usability principles reviews an application (a website or software). She compares the website against a set of guidelines or principles ("Heuristics") that tend to make for more usable applications. For example, if while completing a task a user gets a message that says "Error 1000xz Contact System Administrator" this would violate a Heuristic: "Error messages

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If you've ever designed a survey or questionnaire you've probably wondered how many points the response options should have. Most questionnaires I've examined either use five point scales or seven-point scales.  Is one better? 7-point scales are slightly better The short answer is that 7-point scales are a little better than 5-points—but not by much. The psychometric literature suggests that having more scale points is

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      Does this man need back surgery? Does this woman have breast cancer? Does this website have usability problems? Chances are you're not qualified to answer the first two questions but probably able to provide some answers about the third.  This image comes from the Hotel Pennsylvania website. It was the subject of the Comparative Usability Evaluation (CUE-4). Seventeen usability teams independently evaluated

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Love them, hate them, admire them or ignore them. These seven living legends aren't one-hit wonders. Their work has had and will continue to have a large impact on the field of usability for some time. Here they are in alphabetical order:   1. Joe Dumas "Dr Usability" is author of dozens of articles on usability. His twenty-year old book "A Practical Guide to Usability

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