Josh Futrell and I are sitting in a Web usability workshop at Technology in the Arts: Canada at the moment, and I thought I'd share some notes from the session. The workshop is being led by Robert Barlow-Busch, director of product design at Primal Fusion, a semantic web startup in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Robert's overriding thought about usability testing is quite simple but very important: "Observe people using your Web site."
Josh looks please to be learning about usability.
Why conduct usability testing?
- More useful
- Easier to use
- More desirable (more positive emotional responses)
Aside from basic usability testing, Robert also just talked about projective exercises, which determine what type of emotions people attach to your organization. In the session's particular projective exercise, we were asked to imagine that a group of car manufacturer logos were members of a family. Who in the family would each of the logos represent? Robert's point was that this type of activity is more engaging than simply asking, "What do you think about Ford, Chrysler or Volvo?"
By the way, the entire group agreed that Ford was the drunk uncle. Sorry, Ford.
How does this translate to the arts field? An example that Robert presented was for an arts organization to use this type of activity to test how people view the organization's logo in comparison to the logos of other available activities (cinema, zoo, arcade, video games, Netflix, etc.).
The full set of slides from Robert's workshop will be available soon at TechnologyInTheArts.ca.