~ the usercentric universe~
Web usability, thankfully, is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Instead of web users just taking what's served up to them by developers, the power of their collective clicking is now putting them in the driving seat (where I for one believe they should have been all along).
Businesses are now demanding that the user is considered at all stages of web development, and formal usability testing is emerging as a powerful force in changing the direction of the web.
Formal user testing of a website can be done in a variety of ways, but basically it involves getting a representative cross-section of target users to perform tasks appropriate to a site (such as purchasing a specific book, or finding the email address of their local branch). Their performance is monitored and they are interviewed by the Tester and the behaviour and comments are analysed and documented in a report. This includes such information as the success rate of the sample group, the average amount of time taken to perform the task, what they thought about the business based on the site and how keen they would be to visit the site again or recommend it to others.
I can perform small-scale user testing of sites, including videotaping user trials if required. I will provide a report to specifications, including statistically sound methodologies and objective measures to the extent that's possible. The main advantage of having your user-testing done externally is that an outside consultant can report accurately without the "Emperor's New Clothes" factor.
Sample user-test reports are available on request by email. The cost will be dependant on many factors, including the number of users in the sample, the complexity of the site & tasks set and the amount of detail required in the site. It could vary from around five hundred dollars for a brief and informal 2-3 page report highlighting the main problems found by a small but representative group of users, to many thousands of dollars for a formal, thorough, videotaped and documented Test with a detailed statistically supported report and recommendations.
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