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Part: III Appendixes > Running Usability Evaluations

Appendix A. Running Usability Evaluations

Running a usability test with real customers is essential to good design. You may know a lot about your customers, but it is hard to predict how people will react to and interact with a Web site. Usability tests are also effective in ending those endless opinion wars in which members of the design team argue about what people like and don't like. The best way to answer this question is to recruit some participants,[1] run a quick test, and see what they say and do. This appendix lays out the steps for running both formal and informal usability tests, from setting up the test to running the test to analyzing and presenting the results.

[1] In psychology and other fields, the term subjects is used instead of participants, but we have always felt that the term subjects has a slightly sinister tone.

Our assumption here is that you want to run a usability test in which both you and the participant are in the same place. You should also be aware that an alternative approach is remote usability testing—that is, recruiting and testing many participants online without your having to be there. We discuss how to do this in Appendix E—Online Research.


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