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BookReview: Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests
by Jeffrey Rubin, Wiley, April 15, 1994, 978-0471594031

Jeffrey Rubin gives a "kind of" handbook. If you have never heard of usability testing, then this book is for you. It walks you through the general tests. The problem is that it has a dearth of real world examples. Basically, there's only one, whereas usability testing is extremely complex. Usability testers may not be able to get ahold of enough (or any) subjects. There are other ways to test usability, such as, capturing live usability data from deployed applications. I had problems with the his assumption that user interface experts were highly-experienced generalists. This may be the case, but you can't assume it. Most people are neither highly-experienced nor generalists.

[p12] In an even worse prostitution of this principle, customer contact has become institutionalized in many organizations, with designers requiring customer visits merely to complete a checkoff box on their performance appraisal form.

What is required is a systematic, structured, approach to the collection of information from and about users. Designers require training from expert interviewers before conducting a data collection session. Otherwise, the results can be very misleading.

Via Rob 8/25/2007