World’s Shortest Usability Test

User Interface Engineering recently “reprinted” a two year old article about their 5-second usability testing method. Don’t feel like reading, here’s a “podcast” on the topic with Christine Perfetti and Jared Spool.

The technique is similar to a traditional usability test, with some notable protocol tweaks.

First, participants are given a focused task.

Next, they’re warned that they’ll see a page for 5 seconds and asked to try to remember everything they see. They’re then shown the page.

Having seen the page, they’re asked them to write down everything they remember about the page.

Finally, the participant is asked to write answers to a few questions about what they saw. For example, “What is the most important information on this page?” and “What could you do on this page?”

At this point, the results are analyzed to see whether the content on the page is clear and concise. If so, users will easily recall the critical information and accurately identify the main purpose.

Per the article, a 5 second usability test provides a “valuable glimpse into what happens during the first moments a user sees a page.” At the same time, the author caveats that the technique isn’t appropriate for pages that serve multiple purposes, such as a home page.

If you try out this technique on your pages, drop a comment below. I’ll be sure to do the same.

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One response to “World’s Shortest Usability Test

  1. Interesting. I think I will try this out on some testing we’re scheduled to do. I am wondering why you COULDN’t also do this for homepages. It would give you insights on whatever the user received as the most important message from the homepage. Based on this you could restructure you Information Design to reflect what you want to be the most important message.

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