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Chapter Summary

Although usability testing will neither create nor perfect a website, it will yield a more usable, more successful site. It can identify disaster… and help you avert it. Feedback is valuable. Observation is critical. Once you remove yourself, switching roles from developer to observer, and watch a typical site visitor navigate through the site — attempting to click on graphics, finding his way back to the home page, executing fairly simple tasks — you quickly realize that a little observation goes a long way toward knowing what makes for a positive user experience.

Educate Yourself

For some projects, hiring an outside consultant might be overkill. In these instances, do some reading. Besides Jakob Nielsen's Designing Web Usability, there is also Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug (New Riders, 2000 — this one is funny!) and Handbook of Usability Testing by Jeffrey Rubin (John Wiley & Sons, 1994). Although you will not become an expert overnight, you will undoubtedly benefit from some research before you embark on your own informal usability testing.



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