Catalyst is a leading provider of lab-based usability testing services. We have conducted thousands of usability test sessions on a wide variety of website and software interfaces. Usability Testing delivers insights into overall usability, navigability, as well as questions of product comprehension and general appeal.
Simply put: an investment in usability testing is minimal vs. the rewards. Depending on the interface, testing and analysis can be initiated, implemented and analyzed within days. Since even relatively small groups of people can expose flaws like low subscription rates or poor site navigation, testing is not a burdensome process. Catalyst clients often build regular usability testing into their development budgets - and even undertake international testing to validate interfaces across cultures as well as users. As a result, Catalyst is experienced at providing you with a wide variety of testing services and options - including both a network of testing facilities and portable usability lab systems.
Here's an Overview of the Catalyst Usability Testing Process:
Define the Test Objectives - In addition to validating key functions, Catalyst also probes the larger context for use-cases, e.g.: what is important to a product's success; why an interface exists; why it has been changed; what are the larger goals and metrics for improvement.
Recruit Members of the Target Audience(s) - A critical element in rigorous testing is correct selection of test participants. I.e., employees of different levels, or families as well as business users, or consumers who are both sophisticated and unsophisticated with regard to a given topic. Locating the right people and then persuading them to commit an hour's time - a seemingly routine task - cannot be overlooked, particularly if timeframes are short or testing requirements are highly specific (e.g., German language speakers in Sweden).
Develop a Moderator's Guide - With interface goals and test participants addressed, the next step is creating a document that links the two by defining tasks that will proof the system. This guide provides a way of ensuring that all participants are "tested" in a consistent manner, while also making it clear to observers what the sequence of activity is and how that sequence instantiates the test.
Test Implementation - The test itself is a critical balancing of client needs and unscripted participant performance. Working with Catalyst, you will be supported by moderators who know when to stick to the script - and when to pause for valuable unsolicited reactions. As backup to actual note-takers and in-person client observation, Catalyst deploys a portable usability lab system based on Morae technology. This permits digital video and audio recording of not only the participant, but also direct recording of their mouse clicks and any text entries they make during the test.
Results Analysis and Reporting - The final step in the testing process is the analysis of the test results and the creation of a report that describes the key usability issues observed and provides specific recommendations for addressing these problems. Because Catalyst is also a highly experienced provider of user interface design services, our reports and recommendations are informed by our years of work designing and redesigning interfaces of all types. This insures that our testing reports will propose solutions that are not only appropriate to the circumstances observed, but also represent the latest best practices in interactive design.