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Conducting Iterative Usability Testing on a Web Site: Challenges and Benefits

Jennifer C. Romano Bergstrom, Erica L. Olmsted-Hawala, Jennifer M. Chen, and Elizabeth D. Murphy

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 7, Issue 1, November 2011, pp. 9 - 30

Abstract

This paper demonstrates the benefits and challenges of working collaboratively with designers and developers while conducting iterative usability testing during the course of Web site design. Four rounds of usability testing were conducted using materials of increasing realism to represent the user interface of a public government site: 1) low-fidelity paper prototypes; 2) medium-fidelity, non-clickable HTML images; and 3) and 4) high-fidelity, partially-clickable Web pages. Through three rounds of usability testing, usability increased, but in the fourth round, usability declined. Iterative testing enabled evaluators to collect quantitative and qualitative data from typical users, address usability issues, and test new, revised designs throughout the design process. This study demonstrates the challenges and value of working collaboratively with designers and developers to create tasks, collect participant data, and create and test solutions to usability issues throughout the entire cycle of user-interface design.

Practitioner’s Take Away

We realize that some of these take aways apply to all usability tests but we have included recommendations that are especially important for iterative testing.

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Conducting Iterative Usability Testing on a Web Site: Challenges and Benefits