T16: Introduction to Usability Testing

Tuesday, 17 July 2018, 08:30 – 12:30


James R. Lewis (short bio)

IBM Corporation, United States



Usability testing is an essential skill for usability practitioners—professionals whose primary goal is to provide guidance to product developers to improve the ease of use of their products. It is by no means the only skill with which usability practitioners must have proficiency, but it is an important one. Surveys of experienced usability practitioners consistently reveal the importance of usability testing.

The goal of this tutorial is to provide an introduction to the practice of usability testing, including some discussion of the concept of usability and the history of usability testing, various goals of usability testing, and running usability tests.

At the end of the course, attendees will know the history of usability testing, different types of usability tests, and how to execute a usability test.


Content and Benefits:

The content of the tutorial is:

  1. What is usability?
  2. What is usability testing?
    1. Where did usability testing come from?
    2. Is usability testing effective?
  3. Goals of usability testing
    1. Problem discovery test
    2. Comparison against objectives
    3. Comparison of products
  4. Variations on a theme
    1. Think-aloud
    2. Multiple simultaneous participants
    3. Remote evaluation
    4. Levels of automation
    5. Exercise 1: Identify appropriate type of usability test for given situation
  5. Usability laboratories
  6. Test roles
    1. Test administrator
    2. Briefer
    3. Camera operator
    4. Data recorder
    5. Help desk operator
    6. Product expert
    7. Statistician
  7. Planning and running the test
    1. Purpose of the test
    2. Participants
    3. Test task scenarios
    4. Procedure
    5. Pilot testing
    6. Number of iterations
    7. Ethical treatment of test participants
    8. Exercise 2: Prepare quick usability test plan
  8. Reporting results
    1. Describing usability problems
    2. Crafting design recommendations from problem descriptions
    3. Prioritizing problems
    4. Working with quantitative measurements
    5. Exercise 3: Assessing impact
  9. Wrapping up
    1. Getting more information about usability testing
    2. Usability testing: yesterday, today, and tomorrow


Target Audience:

The course will likely be of interest to a wide variety of attendees, but will be especially useful to usability practitioners who conduct or are planning to conduct usability tests.

Bio Sketch of Presenter:

Dr. James R. (Jim) Lewis, Ph.D., CHFP
James R. (Jim) Lewis graduated with an M.A. in Engineering Psychology in 1982 from New Mexico State University, and received his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology (Psycholinguistics) from Florida Atlantic University in 1996. He has worked as a human factors engineer and usability practitioner at IBM since 1981. He has published influential research on the measurement of perceived usability, use of confidence intervals, and sample size estimation for usability studies. He is co-editor in chief of the Journal of Usability Studies, on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction and Voice Interaction Design, and wrote the chapter on usability testing for the 3rd and 4th editions of the Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics (2006/2012). He is the author of "Practical Speech User Interface Design" (2011) and co-author (with Jeff Sauro) of "Quantifying the User Experience" (2012/2016). He is a BCPE Certified Human Factors Professional, an IBM Master Inventor with 91 US patents issued to date, a member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, and a member and past-president of the Association for Voice Interaction Design.