Regular User Testing

From Nielsen's latest Alertbox column:

I've always recommended fast and cheap user testing, with as many iterations as you can squeeze into your schedule. My true preference is weekly testing; make, say, every Wednesday your User Day and schedule 4 customers to test.

Regular, iterative usability testing is clearly a good idea. For smaller developers who make comparatively little progress each week, testing weekly over longer spans of time may be too much, though. But even smaller developers should keep a regular UI test schedule.

Nielsen's column also highlights the importance of a usable web site. Even if producing the web site is secondary to creating your actual product, it reflects on your ability to create usable interfaces:

"I'm selling you a product where the key differentiator is ease of use," says Margret Schmidt, [TiVo]'s vice president of user experience and design, "but if the website isn't easy to use, how will you believe that the product is? We tried to bring that to the site."

Your web site is often the first thing people see of your company. If it doesn't look professional, your company won't look professional. If it isn't easy to use, people will be frustrated with you even before they use your actual product.

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designed for use cover

But wait, there's more!

Want to read more like this? Buy my book's second edition! Designed for Use: Create Usable Interfaces for Applications and the Web is now available DRM-free directly from The Pragmatic Programmers. Or you can get it on Amazon, where it's also available in Chinese and Japanese.