Practical Usability Testing Workshop


  • Friday 3/11: 9:00am to 5:00pm

Edibles: Boxed lunches at lunchtime; snacks and coffee to keep you fueled up during breaks

Why is usability testing important?

Usability testing is one of the most important methods for creating well-designed, effective products and websites. By observing real people using your product or application, you can get invaluable insights into how your design is perceived and used. Sometimes you’ll uncover powerful reactions that suggest serious issues with your design and motivate improvement — check out this short video clip from a usability test for an example.

Who should attend?

Anyone who wants to build a better product for their customers, but isn’t familiar with the concepts and methods of great design. It doesn’t matter what your background is, this workshop will be engaging, hands-on, and fun! We welcome …

  • Designers
  • Content Creators
  • Marketing & Communications
  • Developers
  • Project & Product Managers
  • Executives

… and anyone else who is interested in usability testing, and is looking for a practical, hands-on introduction to the concepts and methods in the field!

What are people saying about MoreBetterLabs’ workshops?

How likely is it that you would recommend “UX 101” to a friend or colleague?
Average response: 9.5 (out of 10)

How was your experience at “UX 101?”

  • Exactly what I needed, and fun at the same time.
  • Awesome. It was a great mix of teaching and group activities. High level, but dived deep enough that you walk away with tools you can really use. Appropriate for people of all kinds of backgrounds. Well done!
  • It was a productive, enlightening experience. I now feel I am better at my job than I was before the workshop. You covered an ideal blend of issues in the UX domain from organizational culture to concrete example approaches from in the trenches.
  • It was a superb experience. I am a happy user.
  • It was great, I loved all the “hands on” activities. It really gave everyone the opportunity to soak up the information and stay engaged through out the workshop.
  • I learned some great methods for using UX in my day-to-day workflow, gained confidence in being able to explain UX to clients, and gained a much greater appreciation for UX.
  • Thanks for the opportunity, it was a great experience.

Photos from UX 101, illustrating our hands-on workshop approach… you’ll be learning by doing, not just listening!


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Why should I attend?

This introduction to usability testing will be useful to anyone who…

Wants to reduce risk and improve the ROI of your product development
Observing people interact with your product helps you deliver real value to your customers
Wants to deliver products and services that meet customers’ needs
UX research helps you understand the context in which customers user your products and services, helping you design solutions that fit into your customer’s lives
Wants to create a product that is a “joy to use”
User-centered design helps you go beyond a “checklist of featuer” to create products that customers love
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What if I’m not a designer?

It doesn’t matter what your role is: you contribute to creating a great experience for your customer. And you can get better at doing so by engaging with your users through usability testing.

Want to ask us a question?

Feel free to send Abe an email ( or give us a call at 919.593.6129.

I’m a User Experience professional, should I attend?

This workshop is an introduction to usability testing methods. If you’re new to testing, or feel like your skills have gotten rusty, then take a look at the agenda, and decide for yourself if these topics would be useful for you in your practice.

What will I learn?

This workshop will give you an in-depth and hands-on introduction to usability testing.

Our learning goals…

  • Understand the purpose of usability testing and how the technique contributes to the broader goal: creating a great user experience for your customers
  • Jumpstart your work with a practical toolkit that you can use to get usability testing done on a tight project timeline
  • Get introduced to the craft of moderation
  • Focus on productive analysis, collaboration and iterative design (vs. unwieldy, formal reporting)

Why does usability testing matter?

  • Bad UX causes confusion, frustration, inefficiency, and wastes money
  • Good UX makes customers happy, employees efficient, and saves money
    • Amazon: $300 million button
    • Mint: acquired in two years for $5 million/employee
    • Nielsen Norman: median UCD intranet improved productivity by 44%

The usability testing process

  • PLAN: Thinking through how to structure your testing to get the results you need.
    • What do you want to learn from participants?
    • What will be the focus of testing (paper prototype, Wizard of Oz, wireframes, interactive prototype, existing product, competing product…)?
    • Form of testing — remote vs. in-person?
    • How will you structure sessions to get actionable insights and move your design process forward?
      • Defining scenarios, questions, checklists
  • RECRUIT: Finding the right participants for your test.
    • Think about your customer profiles/personas — recruit appropriate participants
    • Use screeners as necessary
    • Provide appropriate incentives
    • Define channels (customer database, recruiting firms, craigslist, intercept, etc.)
  • MODERATE:  Conducting user sessions to get the most from each hour you spend with your participants.
    • Logistics
      • Participant/tester comfort
      • Consent form
    • Observation by colleagues/stakeholders
      • Recording
    • Facilitation techniques
      • Build rapport
      • Nondirective mindset
      • Think-aloud protocol
        • Useful prompts and questions
          • When first looking at project
            • What are you looking at here?
            • What can you do?
          • As test progresses
            • Show me how you would ____________
            • What do you expect will happen when you _____?
          • Wrapping up
            • What did you find confusing?
            • How would you describe what you did here today?
            • What, if anything you saw today, could you imagine using at home? How?
      • Interview-based tasks
      • Semi-structured guide
      • Noting issues
    • Tool support
      • Morae/Silverback
      • Ethnio
  • ANALYZE: Making sense of the pages of notes you’ll generate during your user sessions.
    • Bridge the GAP (Grounded – Actionable – Prioritized)
    • affinity diagramming
    • effort-impact matrix
  • TAKE ACTION: Moving forward with your design and development process, based on the findings from the test.
    • Collaborate with your team to improve the UX based on test findings…
    • e.g. change widget in UI, redesign a feature, add contextual help, explore new visual treatment
    • Summarize key findings via writeups, annotated screenshots, video, etc. to communicate persuasiavely with key stakeholders/clients

About the Presenters

Abe Crystal, Ph.D., is a principal at MoreBetterLabs, a small but feisty company dedicated to creating a better Web through design.

We’re currently developing our first product, ruzuku. Ruzuku helps passionate experts (such as authors, speakers, and coaches) create online learning communities.

In addition, we work with clients (such as, Princeton University, Duke University, NC State University, and NC LIVE), to improve their user experience. We’ve designed online communities, digital libraries, and ecommerce sites.

Abe earned his doctorate in Information Science from UNC-Chapel Hill and has served as an adjunct professor of information science at UCLA (teaching Information Retrieval) and UNC (teaching Organization of Information). He has published in Library and Information Science Research, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, International Journal of Metadata, Semantics & Ontologies, Technical Communication, and Conference on Designing for User eXperience (DUX), and was awarded the A. R. Zipf Fellowship for excellence in graduate research. He also worked on the user experience team in IBM’s Rational Software division, where he conducted user research and conceptual design for requirements definition and prototyping software. He co-founded the Triangle Usability Professionals Association, and served as Vice President in 2006, President in 2007, and Chair of the Advisory Council in 2008 and 2009.

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Making sense of the pages of notes you’ll generate during your user sessions.


Friday, March 11, 2011


NC Biotechnology Center in RTP (directions)


Just $399 for a full-day workshop