Reflection #1 – “Why are we testing with only 5 users?”

This week, the first module of Usability I focused on what usability is at it’s core. This included sussing out what makes it different from other types of research, and why research of this type can be done quickly and with fewer people. As soon as I logged in to Blackboard to start working on the assignment of writing a business proposal justifying the number of usability participants, I saw my favorite graph and had to laugh.

The work Robert Virzi and Jakob Nielsen have done to determine how many users are needed for a study like this have been a saving grace for me as I have navigated corporate usability culture. Unfortunately, not everyone is hip to the idea that research is extremely important for creating a customer centered experience that will, in the long run, drive loyalty and conversion. So whenever I get asked why we don’t need statistically significant results, or why we aren’t testing with more users, Nielsen’s article and graph help more than anything else. At this point, everyone in the business have heard this story, so I haven’t had to use it as often. It’s still saved as a Quick Part in Outlook though, just in case I need to shoot it over to someone.

Looking forward, it’ll be great to review all of the stuff that I’ve been working on for a while now. Plus, I’ve been meaning to read Steve Krug’s book and this class will force me to do it!

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