Usability Memo

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This is an individual assignment. Each team member will test and document the instructions’ usability.

Each team member should find at least one person to try out the draft of the instructions to see if the can easily complete the task, and how the instructions can be made clearer, shorter, or better in any other way. Based on the feedback you get in this stage, you will be revising the instruction set. You will also provide me with a short memo (250-500 words) describing who you chose to test on (what is their experience and level of proficiency with software of this type?) and what kind of feedback you received.

Usability Resources

Usability testing can refer to observing users work with any number of things (machines, websites, software, instructional texts) and making targeted revisions based on those observations, but many of these materials will refer to the usability of websites. Much of the information will carry over into whatever medium you are working in.These are not assigned readings, simply a set of resources for you to look over as you plan and implement your usability tests.

Usability Testing (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.: This is an article introducing basic methods of usability testing. Actually, the entire website this article appears on is a massive repositoryLinks to an external site. of user-centered testing information provided by the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services, so if you want to look around, you’ll probably find something useful.

Usability Testing Demystified:Links to an external site. This article tries to flesh out and simplify the process of usability testing. And the website it appears on, A List ApartLinks to an external site., has a wealth of good information on usability testing and other aspects of writing and design.

Does Document Usability Have to Be So Complicated?Links to an external site. This last article is aimed directly at writing technical documents, so it may be the most relevant to your current assignment (unless you are working in some other medium like video).


I’m including a video of a short, informal usability test run by Chris Pirillo. In it, he has his father test a preview version of Windows 8. Even though it’s not a formal usability test, it still includes a lot of the hallmarks one would see in a more rigorous study, giving the user tasks to perform, and listening to them as they try to navigate the software. Your own usability tests may look a lot like this, but you don’t need to record them.

How Real People Will Use Windows 8Links to an external site.

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