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Inspection Methods

This page covers Usability inspections, which is a generic term for several methods. When the subject of Usability and user testing comes up, there are typically two elements that deter the process from evolving. The first is time and cost. It’s true that time is required to develop proper testing, build user profiles, test users in the field or in a lab, and gather the final results for analysis. The cost of all those parts can be considerable, if we simply look at empirical Usability testing, which is often and erroneously promoted as the only way to go. That’s not to say that empirical Usability testing isn’t valuable. It is indeed highly valuable. Taking time and cost into consideration though, there is an even more costly road that companies often take: redeveloping after market goals are not attained. Redeveloping in the aftermath is often damaging to a developing company, but it can be very damaging to a large company trying to develop new and innovative technology in the hopes of gaining new revenue platforms that will prevent stagnation. Simply put, performing quality research and analysis of user needs before development yields greater return on investment.

The following list is drawn from the book, Usability Inspection Methods, by Jakob Nielson and Robert L. Mack. They did not invent the methods, but are responsible for culling them all together in meaningful text. I always like to offer up the following list as a way to start working toward interacting with the user community, and allaying any fears about usability inspection methods. You’ll see that we have already covered some points in the list, but a deeper inspection with greater attention is warranted. You’ll also see that some of the points may not applicable to Verizon. These can be easily recognized and judged. Finally, these methods are not set in stone. They can be combined and even built upon to create a hybrid inspection method(s) that suits Verizon’s needs.

In order to get the most out of any inspection method, User & Task Analysis must also be taken into consideration. I will provide details concerning User & Task Analysis in my next document. Developing User Profiles helps to focus on user goals, macro and micro tasks, and ultimately develop a true requirements document that combines business requirements and user goals.