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Usability Testing Essentials: Ready, Set...Test! 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0123750921
ISBN-10: 012375092X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Beg, borrow, buy or steal a copy of Usability Testing Essentials:  Ready, Set…Test! This is as good a book on usability testing as you are going to find, and it will provide practical guidance regardless of your experience level…if you want a single book on usability, a book that will touch upon the primary topical areas in sufficient detail to be useful, Usability Testing Essentials:  Ready, Set…Test! by Carol Barnum is the one to read.  You won’t be disappointed."--User Experience, Volume 11, Issue 4, 4th Quarter 2012

"Have you been inspired to try usability testing, but not sure exactly how to go about it? Carol Barnum’s book will take you step-by-step through all you need to do. Plus, she gives you a solid background in the context and history of testing – and adds a valuable chapter on international testing. Carol is highly regarded as a teacher, an academic, and a practitioner, and all three of her roles shine through in this book" -- Caroline Jarrett, User Experience and Usability Consultant, Effortmark Limited, author of Forms that Work

"Carol Barnum’s Usability Testing Essentials delivers just what the title promises. Readers who are new to usability studies will find here all they need to know to design and execute a test, analyze the test data, and provide an effective report with recommendations for clients. But even usability experts will find the book chock full of ideas, insights, and suggestions that will improve their practice and their teaching in this increasingly important area of study. Barnum’s expertise on the subject shines through on every page, but the book’s greatest strength is its careful attention to analyzing test results, a topic that earlier texts have tended to gloss over much too quickly." -- George Hayhoe, PhD, Mercer University School of Engineering

"Usability Testing Essentials will guide you through both conducting a usability evaluation and making the decisions that will make it a useful and effective part of any user experience project. Carol Barnum places usability evaluation into the larger context of user-centered design.  It is a valuable resource for anyone getting started in usability and a excellent companion to both Letting Go of the Words and Forms that Work."―Whitney Quesenbery, WQusability

"Carol Barnum has done a wonderful job of distilling her research, consulting, and teaching experience into this very lively, practical book on how to do usability testing. You get up-to-date, step-by-step help with lots of variations to suit your own situation. You see each part in action through the running case study. If you have a global market, you'll especially want the chapter on international usability testing. This is a great addition to the usability toolkit. -- Janice (Ginny) Redish, Charter member of the UPA, author of Letting Go of the Words – Writing Web Content that Works

"Carol is a rare breed, both an academic and a practitioner. Her voice of experience comes across clearly, backed by references that illustrate where and who our methods came from. Newcomers to usability testing will find a solid introduction; while those more experienced will find unexpected insights into the field."―Carolyn Snyder, Snyder Consulting

From the Back Cover

"What makes so many products so difficult for the average person to use?"Carol Barnum posits this question in her introduction to this book. Too many perfectly functioning products are being returned because they are not usable. Strong usability testing is the key. But what do we do if under a strict budget and time constraints? How do we properly prepare, test, analyze, and measure across a multitude of cultures, generations, and countries? There are many different testing methods and numerous situations in which to test; however, all are grounded in the same basics of usability testing.

Usability Testing Essentials presents a practical, step-by-step approach to learning the entire process of planning and conducting a usability test. It also explains how to analyze and apply the results and what to do when confronted with budgetary and time restrictions. This is the ideal book for anyone involved in usability or user-centered design―from students to seasoned professionals.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann; 1 edition (November 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 012375092X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0123750921
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stephen Krug on June 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
As I said when I wrote the foreword, you might wonder why I'd recommend a book about usability testing when I have one out there myself. But when I wrote Rocket Surgery, my purpose was to explain The Least You Can Do(tm) about usability testing so that people who didn't have *any* time to do it might actually get started. But, of course, there's a ton more to know about it, and this book is currently the best way to learn it all.

On the one hand, it's a great textbook. Carol's been teaching at Southern Polytechnic for a long time and she's groomed a whole generation of testers, so she's really good at explaining it all. And she covers everything you need to know.

On the other hand, it's a terrific, comprehensive (unlike mine), practical guide, because at the same time she's been teaching, Carol's also been running the university's usability lab for real-world clients, so she knows how the work is done--inside and out.

As another reviewer here said, "The book is thorough enough to be used as a textbook but practical enough to be used by professionals."

I'd say, "No matter what stage you're at--beginner or seasoned veteran--if you're interested in usability testing, this book should be on your shelf."
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book is quite good, perfectly on pair with the green and purple ones (Handbook of Usability Testing: Howto Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests and A Practical Guide to Usability Testing respectively, previous best books on the subject). And this book is much more fresh (both green and purple books was published quite a long time ago for IT standarts).

Sadly, publisher (Morgan Kaufmann) did terrible work on converting this book to Kindle. It really looks awful, it is hard to read, images are randomly cropped or displaced. I have yet to see worse designed Kindle book and I have seen alot.

Still, great deal since you can rent it. For such a price it's probably best introductory book for topic of (more or less) serious usability research.
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Format: Paperback
The author has obviously done (and taught others to do) all three elements of the book's tagline numerous times. Her choice of topics and tone provided a great balance between real-world practicality and hardcore science. Plenty of data-driven examples and tools, how-tos, and an obvious delight in helping the reader prepare for their next usability test. A wonderful reference and in-the-trenches guide.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Usability, Testing, Essentials" is a very practical book that literally shows you a step by step process of how to conduct a usability testing. The layout of the book is fantastic in that the chapters are set up logically from introducing the subject of usability testing, then moving into the planning and preparation phase, then onto the analyzing and reporting of the findings. I especially liked chapter 7 which is how to conduct a usability test. In this section, she explains how to be an effective and unbiased moderator because you can lead users down certain assumptions based on your own body language. There is also a good section on international usability testing and how to localize the test for those users. Overall the book is great if you need a practical guide in how to conduct a usability test.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book fills a huge gap in usability testing resources. It gives practical, real-world guidance on how to actually perform the gamut of usability testing, from discussion of advantages and disadvantages of different approaches to almost step-by-step suggestions on how to go about it - recruitment, physical setup, planning, preparation, analysis, reporting. Case studies, samples, templates, and questionnaires abound. The issues she discusses in international testing are especially interesting, although not by any means exhaustive - more like pointers to more information, which apparently would be voluminous.

Every budding Ux evaluator/designer should have this book on their shelf.
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I had the great pleasure of taking Usability Testing under Dr. Barnum for her graduate course at Southern Polytechnic. We used this book, of course, as the primary text. Dr. Barnum, a tireless end-user advocate and devoted teacher with seemingly limitless energy, secured a real-world client for our class project. Using the effective, low-cost techniques outlined in this book, our small team produced a formal usability report for our client (who was thrilled with the work). I recommend this book to anyone new to the field and those who need a single reference to walk them through each step in the UX testing process.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have been studying usability and conducting what amounted to heuristic-based usability reviews of interactive software since 1977, though I had no idea that those were the terms to describe what I was doing. I thought I was trying to make PLATO lessons better by applying common sense about what people were likely to understand on the screen.

Years later, I had to convince the Head of Engineering that we needed to change the UI for one of our tools. His position was that if users couldn't figure it out, they were too dumb to be permitted to use our system. It took testing where he could see smart people fail at what he and the engineers thought were simple, obvious tasks to convince him.

Carol Barnum's book combines really good advice on how to test with a pithy review of the principles of user-centered computing, usability, and usability testing. All of it is from a practitioner's point of view, larded with illustrative anecdotes and observations that can only have come with practice. It never tips over into a series of war stories, however.

My only objection is that she spends too much time on those currently-fashionable user personas. I think they're something of a waste of time. If you can't envision your likely users without portraits and a description of what kind of shoes they wear, you are in trouble. But let's let that slide. I'm probably just being a curmudgeon.

If you want a book that shows you, with examples, how to design and carry out usability testing from convincing higher-ups of its value to creating a usability lab (permanent or temporary) to conducting and recording the actual test results and interpreting them, this is it. There's a lot of practical wisdom here, and real guidance as well, with actual examples of some artifacts. You can't do better for a meaty yet breezy practical book that neither bogs itself down with academic issues nor sticks to pieties and generalizations.
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