|Information Architecture focuses on how
to design information. On the web, this involves reading text, labelling items, creating
navigation systems, searching for data, using content and so forth. Web
Usability engineers test websites
to see how they suit the user's needs. To do this, they may test the following:
- Ability to use site navigation.
- Effect of color and site palette.
- Ability to use Feedback and Help sections.
- Length of time to find an article.
- Locating key contact information.
- Navigation cues and icons/graphics to see
if they assist or hinder the user*.
- Reaction to innovative design
elements, such as floating windows.
* Users rarely interpret icons as Graphic
Designers would expect.
Focus Group tests are often
carried out in one-on-one sessions. Sometimes testing is performed on several test
subjects at the same time. However, you need to monitor these sessions as the most active
people will influence the more passive participants.
During a test, the moderator asks
users to perform certain tasks, gauges their ability to carry out them, and note where/why
they encountered any difficulties.
They ask open-ended questions on
what was useful, intuitive, difficult, and how to improve things.
Large scale focus groups consist
of 10 or more individuals. The Usability Engineer may show prototypes in order to isolate
specific issues in navigation, process, and usability.
Rules for Usability
When performing usability testing,
try to avoid Yes/No questions when interviewing your subjects. These responses will
provide little depth and avoid them discussing their experience.
Use open-ended questions,
such as, "Why do you like this site?" as this is more productive that the more
blunt: ¡°Do you like this site?
Use chart and diagrams to share
feedback with the Graphic Designers many of whom will be overly enamoured with their
Objective data may encourage them
to improve their design without crushing their feelings. Management also tend to favour
charts which show the results and enables them to digest the key points quickly.