Glossary » Usability Methods
the design of an educational system, focusing on how people learn and how learning can be facilitated. An instructional designer will set educational objectives for the system and design the interaction to avoid straying from those objectives. A wide variety…Read more »
or inter-coder reliability; the degree to which 2 observers record the same data (or in some cases, draw the same conclusions) in the same circumstances. Lack of reliability in observations can indicate that observers are missing important details, that they…Read more »
the design of how a user communicates, or interacts, with a computer. Interaction designers focus on the flow of interaction, the dialog between person and computer, how input relates to output, stimulus-response compatibility, and feedback mechanisms.
This is in contrast…Read more »
the degree to which the design of a study allows you to accurately attribute an observation to a specific cause rather than alternative causes. An undesirable alternative cause for your result is known as a “confound”.
An example is to…Read more »
gathering information about users by talking directly to them. An interview can typically gather more information than a questionnaire and go into a deeper level of detail. Interviews are good for getting subjective reactions, opinions, and insights into how people…Read more »
An iterative process oriented around exploring a wide variety of alternatives. Rather than build a single prototype and testing, in the inverted pyramid process, you build lots of low-cost alternatives, such as thumbnails, evaluate them, then refine to the next…Read more »
a set of international standards for quality management. The standards help ensure that an organization produces quality products and services and runs the organization well. The main themes are to apply a systematic process, measure performance and make decisions based…Read more »
the idea that design should be done in repeated cycles where, in each cycle, the design is elaborated, refined, and tested, and the results of testing at each cycle feed into the design focus of the next cycle.
This is…Read more »
an observation technique involving following someone throughout their workday to understand all the details of their work.Read more »
a user testing situation in which usage data, such as keystrokes and mouseclicks, are automatically recorded into logs or journals. This data can later be analyzed to determine a user’s pattern of behavior, find trouble spots, examine learning times, and…Read more »
Keystroke Level Model. A simple GOMS technique dealing mainly with observable events and organized as a single stream of sequential operators. KLM is easy to learn and can provide fast, but crude, task execution times.Read more »
circling and tapping on an object with a pen — used as a selection technique in pen-based systems.Read more »
designing around the specific needs of a learner; designing to foster learning. Similar to user-centered design (UCD), learner-centered design focuses on the tasks and goals of someone who is learning, motivates them, and helps them grow as they use the…Read more »
a type of survey question where respondents are asked to rate the level at which they agree or disagree with a given statement. For example:
I find this software easy to use.
strongly disagree 1 2 3 4 5 6
…Read more »
testing a software system to verify that it can handle high-volume use; for instance, checking that a website can handle a large number of simultaneous users, checking that a game can handle a large number of players, or confirming that…Read more »
a prototype that is sketchy and incomplete, that has some characteristics of the target product but is otherwise simple, usually in order to quickly produce the prototype and test broad concepts.Read more »
Humans establish mental models of how things work, or how they would behave in a particular situation. For example, having been a student at a university for a while, a student can establish a “mental model” of attending a university.…Read more »
an analysis of an issue combining the results from multiple studies, especially a statistical technique for combining the statistical data from multiple experiments. The statistical method is especially useful when prior studies appear to give conflicting results or provide questionable…Read more »
the use of one idea or object to represent another; making an implicit comparison between concepts to provide insight into those concepts.
Metaphor is used widely in graphical user interfaces to help set users’ expectations and make the behavior of…Read more »
T = A + B * SQRT(D/W)
T = time to move to a target
D = distance to target
W = width of target
A ~ -13 msec
B ~ 108 msec
Meyer’s Law is…Read more »
Model Human Processor. A simple cognitive architecture used as the basis of the GOMS family of user modeling techniques. This representation of human cognition consists of separate components for cognitive, motor, and perceptual processors (and associated buffers), as well as…Read more »
or scope creep; the tendency for a project to accumulate more and more required project goals as development proceeds, such as additional software features or sections of a website. Mission creep typically delays a project, runs it over budget, and…Read more »
another term for prototypes, usually referring to low-fidelity prototypes, such as paper illustrations, screenshots, or simple configurations of screens with limited interaction.Read more »
MDS; a statistical technique useful for understanding the structure of a domain, especially useful in early stages of design. People are asked to rate pairs of concepts for their similarity, then these similarities are fed into the statistical algorithm to…Read more »
the extent to which a study, such as user testing, matches the real-world situation to which its results will be applied. This is an example of an external validity concern. This means matching the types of users being tested and…Read more »