If you want to find and fix usability problems in your web site, the bad news is that finding them on your own is extremely difficult. You'll overlook massive show-stoppers because you know how the site is meant to work.
The good news is that usability testing, getting someone else to use your web site while you watch them, is very easy and extremely informative.
In this short, encouraging book, Steve Krug explains what you have to do in his wonderfully approachable style. In Don't Make Me Think!: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, he zeroed on in the really important points about web site usability. In this new book, he's done it again with usability testing. It's boiled down to the essence of an approach that anyone could use, in 'a morning a month'.
Not does he claim that his method is full-on, professional testing. In fact, he says: "If you can afford to hire a usability professional to do your testing for you, do it".
This book is for anyone who wants to make sure that their web site is easy to use, but doesn't have the budget for a professional.
Having said that, I am a usability consultant and I still found it worthwhile to read this book. If you've struggled to get clients to make the changes that you know are necessary, then here's an opportunity to pick up some ideas.
Having read Don't Make Me Think some time ago, I've been eagerly awaiting this 'how to' book and have had it on pre-order for a while. It was worth the wait. Having read it in a matter of hours I think any website owner, manager, designer or developer would find it an interesting and informative read.
This book explains what you can gain from regular usability testing and shows you step-by-step exactly how to facilitate usability testing and collate the results into an action plan. You don't need a load of fancy, expensive equipment or programming skills and Mr Krug usefully includes all the scripts (narrative not programming) you need to conduct your testing. He also covers how to: conduct debriefing meetings, manage the fixing of problems, get buy-in from stakeholders and potential pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Really all you need to start your own usability testing is this book and the skills to organise a meeting - the book tells you what to do at what time point so it really is a case of following the instructions. I particulalry like the short, to the point chapters and as with Don't Make Me Think!: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability the design layout makes it super-easy to use with decent sized type broken down into manageable chunks.
A good introduction to interface usability tests. It succeeds in making you understand how this kind of tests, although not necessarily expensive, can dramatically improve user experience suggesting just minor interface tweaks. The book gives you little more than a general idea, scratching only the surface, but it gives you enough to conduct your own tests, conveys confidence in their usefulness and gives you a list of other sources to expand your knowledge. The examples are all about web interfaces but the very same principles are easily applied to desktop or mobile applications.
Steve Krug's usability testing methodology does for usability testing what James Bach's Rapid Software Testing methodology does for other types of software testing. That is, it assumes that:
1. You have some version of a website or web application that can be tested (even if only a wireframe or prototype).
2. You have limited time for testing.
3. It's better to do some testing that will find important problems fast than to plan a big test that could yield statistically significant results and find many problems but that won't actually get run.
It further assumes that you are not a usability professional and cannot afford to hire one but that you can do good enough testing yourself if given some practical instruction. This book, supported by the video on the companion website, provides that practical instruction.
Here you will find out what to do at every step, from recruiting test subjects through to debriefing, and how much time to spend on each activity. If you have never facilitated or observed a usability test, you will additionally get a sense of what it's like to do usability testing.
The book is well written, being concise and precise. Furthermore, the pages are attractively designed and illustrated, making this a book that's nice to hold as well as one that's useful to have. (This review relates to the paperback edition, obviously.)
This is user testing on the cheap for people who work in different areas of web development and who want to improve their work but have a very small budget.
Having done a fair number of user tests now, without being taught specific techniques, I agree that the best way to learn how to test something is to plan it out, find some real users, and learn from actually doing it. You learn really quickly what does and doesn't work on a site and the method he suggests will make a practical difference. There is nothing like seeing the way people use and abuse a website to make you realise that maybe you weren't as clear as you thought.
What a hard act to follow - could any book be as succinct and useful as "Don't make me think!"? Unlikely.
This book is however a great progression. Maybe you've 'inherited' a poor site / web application or you know and promote the basics but people (usually with more power and ego than sense) override best practice insisting on something they want; how do you then identify, test and prioritise issues and correct them in the long-term. This book shows you how in a clear, succinct and practical way.
If only Steve Krug could bring such clarity to other aspects of our life; like politics, world peace or famine.