Grace under pressure – a new usability testing technique

We returned from a meeting today, where we had showed off a customer’s website. Unknown to us, it had just been revised to fix an internal shopping cart bug. Anyway – the implemented solution to this bug, was, shall we say, interesting…. and now something we thought may be a new barrier to a sale for some users. 

So we got back to the office and I played a little more with the new feature.

As a business, we’re always open to new website/process concepts and I wanted to test it.

Test it quickly and get some quick feedback.

05 March 2008 2:33pm – we stumbled upon a new (to me) technique for extreme usability testing.

I asked a member of the team, who was busy but could spare a few minutes, to go to this website. I told them to carry out a task in a manner that put them under a bit of pressure. The user failed. I turned up the pressure a bit more and repeated the request. To which they failed again. It took at least four attempts before they realised what was going on and then successfully completed the task.

It was all a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the feedback was extremely useful.

Under pressure, the user, we’ll call Grace, failed spectacularly. The aspect of pressure induced an almost extreme reaction to the system highlighting that this new feature has some usability issues worth exploring.

Sometimes you don’t have time to recruit a structured sample group for testing. Sometimes you need a quick way of finding out if you need to explore an issue further. Putting Grace under pressure, illustrated that there was an issue – an issue that now bumps another impending bug fix higher on the priority ladder.

Grace, I apologise now, for putting you under pressure. Signals was always the better album.

Written by Guy in: usability |

No Comments

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.