Usability Testing course – part of Usability Week London 2015

Summary: The Nielsen Norman usability testing course I went to as part of Usability Week 2015 was worth the effort and cash.

I was lucky enough to attend a training course on usability testing from Nielsen Norman which was part of London Usability Week. This one day course with Kara Penrice gave us a whistle stop tour of a range of different techniques including in-person, remote and online testing methods.

There were loads of useful practical tips about how to structure the tests, if you should pay participants and how much green you should send their way if you choose to do so. There seems to be some people who take part in usability testing as a career – you can get $100 for 90 minutes work. The problem with these ‘professional testers’ is they are too versed in how tests work, too eager and please and arguably not objective and detached enough to give you impartial feedback.

Jacob Neilsen keynote

Keynote speech from Jakob Nielsen

Having done the course on Sunday (the only down side) I went back to HQ on Wednesday to see ‘father of usability’ Jakob Nielsen deliver his keynote speech ‘Whos’ winning us or the enemy‘. Rather than use a flashy power point with whiz bang graphics Uncle J used 18th century paintings to demonstrate his thinking on several common usability problems.

Amongst the things that got slated by Nielsen were:

  • Apple – using flat design on their icons has taken usability backwards 20 years focusing too much on aesthetics
  • Agile principles – can be used to design well but often used to focus too much on an individual design aspect without considering an overall finished design
  • Responsive layouts – they don’t really work that well as they create a ‘one size fits all’ except it doesn’t as you need to test a design for each device to make sure it works

I was pretty happy with his honesty and there was some uncomfortable people in the room especially when he battered Apple.

It was great experience and I hope to be getting involved again the next time the NNG bandwagon comes to town.

Resources from the session

We were given a great set of resources many of which were copywritten and not for sharing. I’m including the links to the resources which can be bought from NNG or are free on their website.

A mathematical model of the finding of usability problems

Links to other resources:

Great day learning about usability testing from @nngroup Jedi @karaann #nnguw pic.twitter.com/SORZMkZspw

James Mullarkey

I write about the web and digital, mediocre sporting performances and places I've been, for this blog and only this blog.