Lo-fi usability testing – Part 1: Background

I recently spoke at ProductCamp London about conducting lo-fi usability, that is, easy, quick and inexpensive usability testing that anyone can run.  I did a neater version when I was invited recently to present to the BBC product managers and user experience practitioners, which I’d like to share with you.

Quite a few people are put off usability testing because they think it’s complicated, time-consuming and expensive.  What you may not realise is that you can run a set of usability tests in a single afternoon that will uncover eighty percent of the problems your product has.  And the only specialist equipment you’ll need is a pen, some paper and the computer you need to access the software or website.

This my friends is lo-fi usability testing – a high-return, low-cost method for these cash-strapped times.  In this first instalment, I’ll be discussing what usability is and why testing it is so important.

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Pay attention to local requirements

I was reading the Evening Standard last night on the tube home. It’s a filthy habit, but it  avoids having to make eye-contact with other Londoners. For the uninitiated, social interaction was seemingly banned on public transport in London several decades ago.

While I freely admit that the quality of journalism in the Evening Standard is precisely what you’d expect from a free newspaper, one article (with coherent sentences and everything) about how 3G iPads may not roam around the EU due to a legal technicality started me thinking about the extent to which local details can affect the successful launch of international products.

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