I've designed and facilitated a dozen or so tests on startup sites over the past couple of years but the last round I did was for a large publishing company and boy was I nervous.
For starters, it was my first job in finance and I felt so inexperienced in the sector that I actually started to have doubts a
The company had hired me to take the lead on usability but were skeptical when I suggested doing some testing before launching their latest product (an analysis toy for private investors) - "We've never done it before, and we've not had any complaints".
Reading this great book
gave me the confidence to make a case and sure enough; I got buy-in from all the major stake holders (Chairman, operations director, head of marketing, dev manager).
We initially ran some tests internally (4 in total), allowing us to test the set up prior to the external tests and hone our scenarios, which we eventually got down to just 5.
We ran our tests using Silverback by ClearLeft
on a MacBook Pro (using a 19" external monitor and microsoft vanilla keyboard and mouse), streamed it on to a PC hooked up to the 42" TV in the meeting room next door using join.me
and then 'taped an iPhone to the back of the monitor and made a FaceTime call to another mac in the observation room, so they too could see the participants face.
The results were outstanding.
So. Many. Facepalms.
(that's a good thing when testing)
One forgets how bloody fantastic it is when that behemoth of an issue shows it's face for the first time... Priceless.
Immediately afterwards, the dev manager and I review the footage with various other members of the team (Silverback makes it so damn simple thanks to the remote controlled highlight/chapter marking) and we decide on our 3 main issues.
The main being speed of comprehension which then led to the task of just getting rid of features.
I love getting rid of features. It make's you feel like a bouncer at a really exclusive nightclub.
"It's like "Fight Club." You should only consider features if they're willing to stand on the porch for three days waiting to be let in."
If you don't recognise that quote from 37 Signals' amazing little book - Getting Real, I suggest you go and read it right now. It's fantastic and it's free to read online.
Needless to say, we've ditched a whole bunch of useless crap and everyone is chuffed to bits that we've got something that everyone can use (not just the day traders with tonnes of time and a whole lot more patience).
We're just putting the finishing touches to the build now so I'll let you know how it goes once we open it up to our readers.
But one thing's for sure.
Couldn't have done it without you Steve.