Is Your Web Site User Hostile?

Author(s): Howard Kiewe

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(By Info-Tech Analyst Howard Kiewe - Printed with permission from Processor magazine

I recently guest lectured on the topic of usability testing to computer engineering students at an Ivy League university. To give them some hands-on experience, I had these bright, tech-savvy students run a short usability test. Usability testing is one of my favorite evaluation methods because it allows me to directly observe ease-of-use issues in real users as they attempt to complete a task with technology.

The technology we tested was whatever cell phone the students happened to have in their pockets and the task was simply to reset the time or time zone on the phone. Seems easy enough doesn't it? Unfortunately, most of these über-geeks couldn't complete the task, and most of those that did, struggled to get the job done within the five minutes allotted.

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