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A Practical Guide to Usability Testing [Paperback]

by Joseph S. Dumas, Janice C. Redish
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 1, 1999 1841500208 978-1841500201 Rev Sub
In this volume, the authors begin by defining usability, advocating and explaining the methods of usability engineering and reviewing many techniques for assessing and assuring usability throughout the development process. They then follow all the steps in planning and conducting a usability test, analyzing data, and using the results to improve both products and processes.
This book is simply written and filled with examples from many types of products and tests. It discusses the full range of testing options from quick studies with a few subjects to more formal tests with carefully designed controls. The authors discuss the place of usability laboratories in testing as well as the skills needed to conduct a test.
Included are forms to use or modify to conduct a usability test, as well as layouts of existing labs that will help the reader build his or her own.

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A Practical Guide to Usability Testing + Handbook of Usability Testing: Howto Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests
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Editorial Reviews


A terrific update to a terrific book. This thoughtful and thorough work will push readers along quickly to successful and effective usability studies." -- Ben Shneiderman, University of Maryland

This book has much advice to give...raising a host of issues about digital products that we need to address from our own experience and from our own values. -- Digital Creativity, Vol.10, No.2

About the Author

Joseph S. Dumas is a chief scientist at American Institutes for Research.
Janice C. Redish is president of Redish & Associates, Inc. in Bethesda, Maryland.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 404 pages
  • Publisher: Intellect Ltd; Rev Sub edition (January 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841500208
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841500201
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #988,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, Useful, and Usable - The Best Usability Book September 2, 2000
This is a step-by-step quide with checklists, offering insight into every stage of usability testing. It should help any software development project produce more usable software (assuming the developers are willing to make changes based on the results of testing).
As someone who has done research about usability, taught about usability to over 1000 practitioners, and developed usable systems (some more so than others) for 20 years, I am still impressed every time I open this book. I recommend it as the best practical book on developing usable software (although I also recommend other books, such as Nielsen's "Usablity Engineering" and Rubin's "Handbook of Usability Testing").
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars necessary reading July 6, 2001
This is required reading for usability professionals. It's a detailed look at testing, covering everything from test plans and lab construction to data analysis and how to handle unqualified testers who slip through the screening process. It covers lower-budget tests in addition to full-scale ones. It's clear that Dumas and Redish have loads of experience, and they're not shy about sharing it.
The most useful idea I came away with is that testing needs a specific purpose. You can't just test a system's usability; you test, for example, the navigation system or a membership form.
The only flaws here are a couple of omissions. There's no mention of testing web applications, though the principles covered here can be extrapolated to other purposes. And there is no mention of the ultra-cheap guerilla testing tactics. I doubt Dumas and Redish would approve of them, but it would have been very helpful to read about where these alternative methods were effective and not.
This book is a keeper. While my organization will not likely be doing full-blown usability testing for awhile, I'm now more able to evaluate and communicate with third-party testing facilities. And this book will influence all of our other evaluation and assessment testing methods.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic January 26, 2002
By A Customer
This is a classic in the field, written by two highly-respected usability specialists. I was fortunate to read it as one of the textbooks in a class on usability testing taught by Dr. Dumas. It is a very practical book, covering planning, testing, and reporting the results. The strengths and weaknesses of usability testing are discussed, and there is some information about other usability evaluation methods and basic design principles.
This is a republication, with only slight changes, of the 1993 edition, so the technology and costs are not up to date. But it's not hard to think in terms of digital cameras instead of videotape.
Highly recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for learning usability testing July 6, 2000
With no previous usability-testing experience -- heck, having never even *heard* of usability testing -- I used this book to design and conduct a series of usability tests. I got outstanding results.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Practical Guide to Usability Testing July 2, 2007
This book is real thorough, right up to the point of listing suitable topics for small talk with your test subjects :-) If you are doing guerrilla usability testing, most of the forms and checklists in this book may be overkill, but there is still a lot of useful information... I appreciated a lot that statements are in general backed up with literature, not just common sense reasoning. The only drawback of this book is that it feels a bit dated (i.e. pre-Web). It does seem to have been revised and puts emphasis on iterative testing etc, but doesn't mention more recent techniques such as eye-tracking, or using the Web for recruiting test subjects or identifying potential usability problems via request logs.
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