Usability Labs

One interesting approach to better understanding the end-user perspective was developed by an insurance company that set up a usability lab. Although the company emphasizes a user-centric design approach, it wanted to do more to ensure system acceptance and use by the end-user community. Thus, after systems are developed, the lab is used to test the applications for usability with typical users prior to system release.

The various classes of users are identified and scheduled for lab sessions. The lab is equipped with movie projectors to record body language and facial expressions as well as to time the various operations. The videotapes are carefully reviewed by those responsible for the eventual system rollout to learn what they can about difficulties and training issues. If the lab experience indicates that changes are required, they are made and the results tested again.

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