User friendly systems need users – thank you

The past couple of weeks, I’ve been undertaking usability tests with our old and new content management systems, Polopoly and EdWeb. Once again I was overwhelmed with the number of colleagues willing to give up their time to help me. So I thought I should say thank you.

I would hope that it’s accepted by now that if you want user friendly products, you need to plan regular engagement with users into your development process. This takes a bit of time and effort, granted, but undoubtably delivers better products and if done right, saves you more time and money than you invest in it, in the long run.

Recruitment of people to take part in research is probably the biggest pain, but I have to say that in over two years of engagement with University CMS users on the EdWeb project, this has not been a problem at all.

User group contributions

I have never been short of people willing to give up their time to contribute. At the beginning of the development process, nearly 80 colleagues volunteered to be part of a pool to call on as and when we needed them. And in the past couple of weeks, one email resulted in nearly 20 volunteering and ultimately 8 came into the office for an hour and a half to undertake the same tasks twice – once in Polopoly and once in Edweb.

Amazing commitment. We are very lucky.

So I want to say thank you.

Thank you to all the colleagues who came to our offices for usability testing, or completed one of our surveys, or contributed to one of our workshops. You did your bit in making EdWeb the system it is; a significantly quicker and easier web publishing tool than the system we’re leaving behind. (News on the results of this comparative usability testing coming soon. You won’t be surprised to hear it’s pretty good).

Usability testing – no excuses

And to managers of university systems who have staff or students as the user group I would say: get usability testing built into your management and development processes. There really is no excuse.

We all deserve quick and easy systems and processes as we go about our daily work and study.

Help with user research

Get in touch if you’d like to learn how to become more use focused with minimum time and effort.

Contact Neil Allison for help with user research and usability testing

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