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Usability Testing

Usability Testing

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Published by Oliver Tomlinson
The placement of cross-referencing material
within a home reference manual. User research for falconry manual; I wanted to know where to put the page cross referencing on explanatory spreads.
The placement of cross-referencing material
within a home reference manual. User research for falconry manual; I wanted to know where to put the page cross referencing on explanatory spreads.

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Oliver Tomlinson on Mar 01, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Oliver Tomlinson – Usability testing: self-directed project (Spring term 2010)
The placement of cross-referencing materialwithin a
reference manual
This user testing report accompanies a home reference manual onfalconry, designed by the author. A feature of the manuals’ design is itsalternative book layout compared with conventional methods found in otherfalconry manuals.The author tests 12 participants, with little or no knowledge of falconry,by recording the time taken to find cross reference page numbers in twospread designs; spread A having cross reference under the body text, andspread B placing them on photographs.Following a log (base 10) transformation to normalise the results, a t-test concluded participants were significantly faster at cross referencing inspread A than in spread B (one-tailed matched pairs t-test; t
= -2.00,p=0.035).
Test objectives
To enable the user to navigate a falconry book with a new accessstructure successfully, it is imperative that a system exists to aid them to findrelevant links and sections quickly and efficiently.This test aims to determine the effectiveness of two differentnavigation methods within a single spread of the book, and calculate if different design approaches show a significant difference in the time it takesthe user to find a page reference. The results from this test will be useful, notonly in the case of the falconry manual, but any design requiring complexnavigation through its content.
Oliver Tomlinson – Usability testing: self-directed project (Spring term 2010)
Test method
Design approach
The section in the book describing
(birds of prey) flights andhunting techniques has a number of links to another section describingspecific falconry tasks. The reader is required to navigate the book using across referencing system. Two design variants were tested; spread A refers to adesign where cross references are located under the body text, whereas spreadB locates the cross references in the photos. The cross references in both testsshare similar design characteristics (type colour, typeface and within acoloured banner). Appendix A contains the two design approaches seen in thetest spreads. 
Two spreads of the same book section were printed at actual size, oneusing spread A references and the other using spread B. The author carried outthe test with each participant within a quiet room with few distractions,reading out the statement below before commencement:
Initial participant dialogue
 Each participant was asked to find a reference to either ‘hooding’ or‘flushing game’ in each spread; to reduce the impact of learning they were notasked to search for the same reference in both spreads. To obviate the
“On the page in front of you there are some references to specifictasks involved in flying a bird of prey. In a moment I would like youto turn over the piece of paper and tell me what page you wouldfind an explanation on
hooding/flushing game [choose] 
. I shall betiming your response but please be aware, this is not a test of your ability, I am testing the design effectiveness of this page. I havetwo different pages to try”.
Oliver Tomlinson – Usability testing: self-directed project (Spring term 2010)
potential effects of practice and task sequence, half of the participants weretested on spreads A then B, and the other half B then A (to further reduce any influence of short-term memory, the reference page numbers for hooding andflushing game were different on each test spread). Details of participantquestioning can be seen in Appendix B.The variable this usability test is investigating is the time taken to finda page reference. It was measured by the author recording the time taken fromturning the spread, to the participant saying out-loud the page number. Oncethe test had been timed, each participant was asked to give their opinion onthe spread design, with the author asking which one they preferred and why.Thinking out-loud after the test, as apposed to during the test, did not distractthe participant during the timed task.
There were four combinations in which the variables could be asked(see table below), i.e. it would take four participants to achieve a completerange, so asking 12 participants would repeat all variations three times. It wasdecided that 12 would be sufficient to give a large enough data-set, and thismethod of counterbalancing would make sure the order varied and wasbalanced. The results were focussed on the time taken to find page references;results for hooding and flushing game were not compared as this was not thevariable of interest in this test.
Participant Test sequence
1 Hooding on Spread A  Flushing game on Spread B2 Hooding on Spread B  Flushing game on Spread A3 Flushing game on Spread B Hooding on Spread A4 Flushing game on Spread A Hooding on Spread B
 Counterbalanced test method 

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