As I was working this morning, I happened to reminisce about my first exposure to a usability test.
Picture it, Chicago, Illinois, 1999. I was attending the Web99 conference at Navy Pier. One of the sessions was headed by Jared Spool. Jared is a comical, jovial and enthusiatic presenter that really drove the point home and an example usability test.
Jared started by asking a member of the audience to participate. He had the individual leave the ballroom, out of ear shot, and then preceeded to provide an overview of the test. The task to be tested was to find a hotel along the monorail at Disney World. Seemed simple enough.
As the participant returned and sat down in front of the computer whose display was projected up on the screen, Jared explained to the participant that as she performed the provided task, that she had to think out loud, verbally, into the microphone.
We were all amazed as the participant stumbled here and there, never reaching her goal of a hotel. This one moment changed me, made me ultra aware of how users view an interface differently.
While not a usability specialist, I’ve had several opportunities to perform similar tests, with simialr eye-opening results.
Way kool. Thanks Jared!