Monday, October 24
1:30 PM-5:00 PM

Designing for the User: How to test for Usability

Tutorial ID: 14151
  1. Rachel Bridgewater
    Washington State University Vancouver
  2. Karen Diller
    Washington State University Vancouver

Abstract: There is an increasing need within the computer-mediated instruction community for effective assessment tools that can be used to ensure that interfaces do not act as a hindrance to learning objectives. As our dependence on web-based systems a delivery method increases, it has become essential to assess the effectiveness of our products. One method of assessing these products is usability testing, which analyzes the interaction between users and a product. Because usability testing focuses on users in the design process by studying their interactions with a product, it is an effective tool for course designers and others to use when designing or improving an instructional product. This workshop will teach participants how to assess their instructional products through usability testing. In addition to gaining a general understanding of usability testing, participants will learn how to design testing instruments, how to conduct various usability tests and how to analyze test results. This workshop will include valuable hands-on exercises such as constructing sample instruments, running tests, and looking at the resulting data.


Designing for the User will allow participants to understand the purpose of usability testing. They will learn about a number of different types of usability testing including card sorts, category membership expectation, cognitive walkthrough, focus groups, heuristic evaluation, and surveys. Participants will also learn how to design a number of these tests. Through hand-on exercises participants will learn how to conduct these tests and how to analyze the results. Finally, participants in this workshop will learn how to develop an implementation plan based on their test results.

Topical Outline

This three-hour workshop will cover the following topics: • Definition of usability testing. What is it How is it done Why should you do it • Multiple methods of usability testing (handout provided) Card Sorts Category Membership Expectation Cognitive Walkthrough Focus Groups Heuristic Evaluation Surveys • Definition and discussion of task-based Formal Usability Testing (handout provided) Learn Prepare Perform testing Analyze results Identify and implement solutions Retest • Discussion of other issues to consider when testing: Human subjects regulations Screening participants Rewards for participation • Hands-on Exercises followed by discussion of the following steps in Formal Usability Testing: 1. Purpose Statements 2. General Problem Statements 3. Task Lists 4. Running the test • Discussion on how to analyze data What is success? False starts Time to completion Commentary Exit questionnaire • Discussion on how to implement results (handout provided) Identify problems Develop implementation plan


This workshop is intended for instructors, course designers, course management system designers, and designers of other web-based instructional products who are interested in assessing these products such as courses, tutorials, and other educational websites. This is particularly useful for anyone interested in learning whether their users’ (students, instructors, clients) ability to effectively use their instructional products and accomplish learning outcomes is hindered by the interfaces to those products. Attendees should be involved in the development of and/or teaching within web-based instructional products but do not need any prior knowledge of usability testing or web page creation.

Experience Level



Rachel Bridgewater Presenter, currently a librarian at a research university, has worked in web design and development for over 6 years in both academic and corporate settings. During this time she has often been involved with usability testing. Karen R. Diller Presenter, a tenured member of the faculty at a research institution, has been involved in multiple usability tests over a period of several years. She has presented numerous papers on Usability both nationally and internationally, including a very well received workshop on Usability Testing for the Association of College and Research Libraries Conference. She has designed and taught courses using several course management software packages.
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