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Department of English and Modern Languages
Member, Texas Tech University System The Princeton Review - 373 Best Colleges, 2011 Edition

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ASU Usability Testing Lab

Who can use the ASU Usability Testing Lab?

Anyone on campus or off campus who is interested in conducting their own tests can reserve the lab and its technologies between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday–Friday by contacting the lab director. Also, each spring semester, students at ASU can enroll in ENG 4365: Usability Testing in Technical and Business Writing and conduct usability tests for ASU and local clients. Potential clients who would like students in ENG 4365 to conduct tests on their products/documents should contact Dr. Kevin Garrison at kevin.garrison@angelo.edu and download the Client FAQ.

What is usability?

Usability is defined by how effectively users can use a product, a brochure, application, website, software package or video game to achieve their goals. If you have ever been frustrated when putting together a bookshelf because of poor instructions, then you have encountered a document that is not usable. Usability allows people in our information and technology-driven society to live with less user frustration and make more efficient decisions.

What is usability testing?

Usability tests are both formal and informal attempts to gather data about how users experience interfaces. Testing can be quantitative (i.e., measuring the number of mouse clicks to find a website, the number of mistakes that a user makes, surveys and questionnaires) or qualitative (i.e., interviews, site visits, online tests, heuristic evaluations, speak-aloud and more).

What is a usability testing lab?

Many formal usability tests are conducted in a lab environment. A lab is a physical space where a single tester or a group of testers work with a client to conduct tests on actual users. The ASU lab has powerful technologies, such as eye tracking, remote viewing, data collection/analysis, and video technologies to observe and measure the way people interact with information for the sake of making productive changes.

What is the end result of a test?

The end result of a test is to compile the test data into a plan of action to improve usability. Findings can be presented in several formats: 1) a presentation to the client; 2) a report of the findings; and/or 3) a video of the findings. Listed below are some sample videos from tests conducted at Angelo State University during the spring 2011 semester.

Are there careers in usability testing?

Yes. Students of usability typically come from cognitive psychology programs or technical writing programs, and they can have successful careers as usability engineers, usability testers or usability evaluators of websites, products, interfaces, technologies, documentation materials, games and more. Salaries range from approximately $50,000 or more per year.

Students interested in usability can seek unpaid internships with the ASU lab during each spring/fall semester.

What technologies are in the lab?

Our Usability Testing Lab has an office space with the following available technologies:

Lab Technologies
Technologies Description
2 Desktop Computers 4GB of RAM, 256MB video card, dual core, 500GB hard drive, DVD rewritable drive, memory card reader
1 Laptop Computer Available for check-out. 4GB of RAM, 1GB video card, dual core, 1TB hard drive, DVD rewritable drive, built-in webcam
Dual Monitors for both computers For an extended monitor
Eye tracker Hardware and software that allows testers to “observe” and film what the user is seeing by tracking their eye movements
Morae Usability Lab High powered software that can run both moderated and unmoderated tests; useful for extensive data analysis
Camtasia 7.0 Software Screen capturing software with the ability to do simultaneous screen-capturing and “picture in picture” of webcam footage
Adobe Software Adobe Premiere Elements for video editing and Adobe Photoshop for image editing
Smart Sync Software To allow testers and clients to remotely view tests
Microsoft Office 2010  Word, Excel, Publisher and PowerPoint
2 Camcorders Sony Handycams with tripods and 720x480 resolution for widescreen filming
2 Webcams Logitech cameras with 1280x720 resolution for high definition filming
iPad Available upon request for testing of applications and websites via touchscreen surfaces
Wi-Fi Connectivity Available upon request
Textbooks on Usability Includes the latest information about how to conduct a usability test
Printer For printing documents
16GB Flash Drives Available for checkout
Whiteboard For brainstorming or informal testing
Tables, Desks and Chairs Two desks, a round table and five chairs
Seating in the hallways Available for those waiting to use the lab

 

What are some resources for usability?

Websites
Usability Testing in Texas
Textbooks

 

Contact Information

Location Information:

Academic Building, Room 004B (in the southeast corner on the basement level)

Usability Lab Director Information:

Dr. Kevin Garrison
Assistant Professor of English
ASU Station #10894
San Angelo, Texas 76909-0894
325-942-2268 ext. 242
Email: kevin.garrison@angelo.edu

Kevin Garrison

Lab Forms

Use these links to learn more about how to become a client of the ASU Usability Testing Lab: