September 29, 2004, 12:00 AM

Usability testing works only if it moves outside the lab, consultant says

Usability tests do no good unless results are incorporated into senior-level decision-making and databases that inform every-day decisions about a web site operation, Elizabeth Peaslee, senior consulting director for Creative Good, will tell Shop.org.

 

Many online merchandisers swear by the notion of usability testing. But tests do no good unless results are incorporated into senior-level decision-making and databases that inform every-day decisions about a web site operation. How to conduct and then interpret the findings of user tests will be the focus of the panel discussion “Usability Testing Update” at the Shop.org Summit next week, chaired by Elizabeth Peaslee, senior consulting director for Creative Good.

Panelists include representatives of A&E; Television Networks, which will look at usability testing conducted at a retail site that is part of the broader media-based web site; Lands’ End, which will offer perspectives from a traditional retail site; and Wells Fargo Bank, which will explain how it has conducted user tests at a consumer-oriented financial services web site.

Among topics to be considered are how to get senior management to buy into the notion of conducting usability tests and then how to get them to incorporate those findings into the company’s strategies. Discussions will also include how to integrate information obtained from the usability tests into other data bases and customer information. “We’ll talk about how direct user information is a complement to data retailers already have on their customers,” Peaslee says.

Other topics will include when are the best times to conduct testing and what are some successful strategies for implementing the tests to get the most useful information, Peaslee says.

 

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