I'm attending CHI 2006 next week in Montreal where I'm presenting a user experience report discussing the use of Instant Messaging to provide a dialog between the moderator and the observation room/team members during usability testing. If you are interested, you can read the paper here: No IM Please, We're Testing (PDF). The report includes a survey of moderators (who in general were wary of possible disruption) and observers (who were highly positive). I present some guidelines to try and achieve a balance between these 2 perspectives. Comments/thoughts/critiques appreciated.
If you're at CHI, here's my session info:
Monday Mid-morning 11:30-12:00 EXPERIENCE REPORTS ROOM 511CF
Session: Usability Evaluations: Challenges and Solutions
No IM Please, We’re Testing
Since I wrote the report, I've become interested in the field of Agile Usability (the meeting of Usability/UCD and Agile Programming techniques). Traditional Usability and UCD has been criticised in some circles, for encouraging a slow, inflexible, formal waterfall style development process (requirements gathering, design, test, iterate …). Agile Usability is all about speeding things up in usability research so it can keep up with the dynamic, lightweight nature of modern engineering approaches like Extreme Programming (XP) and other Agile techniques.
Now I believe that the approach I discuss in my paper – using IM during Usability tests – can be a useful Agile Usability technique. IM can enable live collaboration for traditionally passive observers. They can ask additional questions, and diagnose (and hopefully fix) prototype bugs. This observer empowerment may thus be useful in promoting attendance behind the one way mirror, and rapid iteration on usability data by teams.
I've just been searching the CHI program and found at least 6 presentations directly related to Agile Usability. Here they are, FYI (did I miss any?)
- Tuesday 430pm, PANEL ROOM 517C, Agile Development: Opportunity or Fad?
- Doctoral Consortium (poster) 009 Embracing Agile Development of Usable Software Systems Jason Chong Lee, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State, University, USA
- Poster 155 The Role of The Interaction Designer in an Agile Software Development Process Matthew A. Lievesley, Joyce S. R. Yee, Northumbria University, UK
- Poster 185 An Interactive Speech Interface for Summarizing Agile Project Planning Meetings Shelly Park, Jörg Denzinger, Frank Maurer, Ehud Sharlin, University of Calgary, Canada
- COURSE 14 ROOM 513AB Usability and Product Development: A Usability Course for Management, Tuesday 9:00 – 18:00
- COURSE 25 ROOM 514ABC How to Collect Field Data and Produce a Tested Design in 1– 8 Weeks, Thursday 11:30 – 13:00
See you in Montreal!