Thursday, 14 October 2010

Making recommendations usable

User testing and diagnosing usability problems is one thing, but reporting and recommendations is quite another. This paper details a study where 17 usability teams independently evaluated the same website and made recommendations.

It's really interesting to read about the range of recommendations made and the ways in which the work was reported. The authors draw some useful conclusions about what makes a useful, accessible and most importantly of all, actionable usability report.

The study finds that only 14 of the 84 studied comments (17%) addressing six usability problems contained recommendations that were both useful and usable. Fourteen recommendations were not useful at all. Sixteen recommendations were not usable at all.

Quality problems include recommendations that are vague or not actionable, and ones that may not improve the overall usability of the application. The paper suggests characteristics for “useful and usable recommendations,” that is, recommendations for solving usability problems that lead to changes that efficiently improve the usability of a product.
Making Usability Recommendations Useful and Usable - PDF download of a report by Rolf Molich, Robin Jeffries and Joseph Dumas for the Journal of Usability Studies

Journal of Usability Studies

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