Category Archives: Research Methods

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.


How Successful is an Existing Classification System?

Boxes and Arrows has an interesting article on a technique for evaluating the success of an existing classification system by Iain Barker. The technique described is a modification of a traditional card sort.

We are all familiar with using card sorting methods to help create a navigation structure. Iain’s technique delves into the use of cards as a navigation tool to test user success of finding requested information in an existing classification system. Iain also provides a useful way to analyze the data.

I see strengths in this method based on its low cost, fast results and quantitative data it provides. Sometimes, a client doesn’t see beyond numerical fact and this process can help when usability professionals are faced with such challenges.

You can read the full article here:

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