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Usability testing EdWeb CMS with an audience

Yesterday I ran a series of usability testing sessions that were observed by nearly 30 colleagues, most of whom are customers of our service. Some teams would want to do this in private, but not us! We’re happy to have our customers help us identify where we can improve.

Plus, we’ve more usability sessions in the next few weeks to showcase our new service, so read on to find out more and come along to the next one.

The session was actually just the same format as an open usability testing session I ran a while back, also looking at EdWeb. So I’ll not run through the whole process here, as I’ve covered this previously.

Making usability agile – my previous blog post on how to run sessions like this

This time though, as well as providing a training opportunity to colleagues, I was promoting our new Usability Testing Service.

Basically, the message is: Pay us, and we’ll do this for you only without a crowd of strangers watching. Minimum effort, maximum insight.

Introducing the Usability Testing Service – my previous blog post

The turnout for today’s session was great; 28 colleagues joining 7 members of the University Website Programme. It’s the first in a series over the next few weeks, promoting the service.

Although to be fair promotion doesn’t seem to be an issue as I have a list of interested parties in dialogue already, including schools and support units, e-commerce sites and software development projects.

Session introduction slides

You can get a flavour of the session from these slides (hosted on Slideshare), and also access all the resources I use.

Collaborative usability observation session intro from Neil Allison


Session output

The one resource I’ve realised I don’t mention in my slides, is a really nifty post-it note digitisation app called Post-It Plus.

At the end of the session, I had a load of usability issues we’d logged and prioritised noted on post-its and stuck on the wall. Instead of just taking a photo and bringing them back to the office to type up, I used the app to convert each note into a digital artifact which I can then manipulate and organise. Really handy and best of all, free.

Post-It Plus website

Post it notes on a wall

I used the Post-It Plus app to digitise the 11 usability issues the group identified in the session


Photos from the session

Watching a video playback of an EdWeb usability testing session

Session attendees seated round a table watching a video

The EdWeb team watch a usability test video

Session attendees seated round a table watching a usability testing video

Session attendees seated round a table watching a usability testing video

Discussing usability issues logged after watching a test session video

Session attendees discuss at a table

Session attendees discuss at a table

Participants around a table at the usability observation event

Participants discuss the usability issues they’ve seen in a video of a testing session

Find out more

The next session – free to attend for University staff – happens on 14 June

Session details including how to book

How to run a session yourself – guide to agile usability sessions

Let’s talk

If you think you might like us to run a session like this for your team, get in touch with me

Neil Allison’s contact details

If you attended this session

Leave a comment on this post, and tell the University community what you thought. Thank you!


14 replies to “Usability testing EdWeb CMS with an audience”

  1. Carol Blackwood says:

    Thanks for an excellent session! It was well planned and ran smoothly. The facilities used in DHT were first rate and a perfect setup for the session. I found the session very interesting and useful. It’s always much better to have a real example for such a workshop, and our contributions felt valued by the Web team. I’d definitely recommend the session to my colleagues, in fact I already have! Plus we will be looking to try out the techniques, or even better using the Usability Testing Service for upcoming development.

  2. Mike Johnstone says:

    A very well run and interesting session. I liked the idea of using a real-world example to show how easy user testing can be. I’ll definitely be trying it out in future projects and it’s good to know there’s a service to take advantage of if we need to.

  3. Jane Johnston says:

    A really interesting session, and an excellent introduction to usability testing. Thank you very much for organising it! I am very much looking forward to the forthcoming session on the Degree Finder, and will be strongly recommending it to colleagues, as well as encouraging them to use the model for testing future developments.

  4. Steven Thompson says:

    Great session. The facilities enhanced the session greatly as they encouraged collaborative working and the timings were spot on, giving the right amount of time for discussion with our groups. We had the opportunity to learn from each other as well as the groups as a whole and this was of great benefit.

  5. Keith Thompson says:

    Really enjoyed this Usability Testing Session! I was very interested in how the different subjects approached the same tasks – very revealing about the challenges facing end-users (even the IT literate ones). The skill-levels of each User was given out prior to watching the videos and gave a good startpoint for observing their behaviour. The group work that resulted was handy in arriving at useful conclusions & I found the way Neil (& the Control Table) set out the session was very productive.

    I recommended the session to my colleagues as it was useful to connect to the team and see part of the process of continual improvement to the Web Services throughout the University. I will definitely sign-up for future sessions and I was made to feel that my contribution was valued. Very relaxed approach to session which encouraged contribution. Thanks, K

  6. Susan Buckingham says:

    Thanks for another great session from the UWP team! Really valued the chance to learn about how to run a usability session through a very practical example of taking part in one – and great to feel that not only were we learning but the thinking we were doing was also potentially feeding in to the development/further support materials for the new EdWeb features.

  7. Neil Young says:

    Very interesting session, it was refreshing to be part of the process for a current Usability study and to see our input contributing to the ongoing development of the website. I have recommended that some of my colleagues attend future sessions with an eye to perhaps using the service you have set up to examine our own website for potential improvements.

  8. Neil Allison says:

    Thank you all for the comments. So pleased that you enjoyed the session and found it useful. Please share details of upcoming events!

  9. Neil Allison says:

    Some additional comments I received via email, from attendees who didn’t want to use this comment option directly:

    “I enjoyed the session, thought the method used was excellent and would definitely like to use this service when we’re developing/redeveloping our own site. I’d certainly recommend to others.”

    “I thought the session was very well run and planned. I found it very useful. I didn’t know that you had set up the pilot usability testing service. It looks really excellent and has saved me a lot of time thinking about methodology, software, etc. for our planned usability testing for DiscoverEd.

    I would like to attend other sessions like this and would (and have) recommended to colleagues. I intend to use your methodology for our DiscoverEd usability testing.”

    “As usual a clear, concise and well presented session from yourself. You always give great information and great links to experts in the field. It was run very well and everything seemed to run smoothly. The only negative was the sound on the video was a bit woolly.

    The session was enjoyable with good interaction within the group. It was very useful in that we could go through an actual event. I hope to get to the session on the Degree Finder if I can get the time. I will and have recommended the session to other colleagues and hope to try out the techniques in the near future as soon as I get some time.”

    “I really enjoyed the session, it was well run and the facilities good. The event was much more useful than I expected and definitely inspired us to implement some of the techniques for our own site. I appreciated the advice on how to organise the events and get everyone in the room and involved. Neil also has me convinced on the importance of using the priorities flow chart for keeping discussions on point and productive. I would highly recommend the sessions to others.”

    “A well run and enjoyable session particular as the topic covered was very relevant for my work. I would recommend the EdWeb usability session to my colleagues. The session got me thinking of how I can use the techniques covered in projects I am involved in. Thanks for a great session.”

    “Overall it was great – I find sessions like this are useful for gaining skills on working with a larger team to improve content, so I like the discussions and scribbly board stuff towards the end – this is all stuff I can use to convince my guys to do things better. I also liked the sense of transparency this process creates, so we all feel like we’re helping to make it work. Big thumbs up from me, and looking forward to the next one.”

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