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February 21, 2016

English 3050: Technical Communications I


To: Professor Amy Latawiec
From: KieuTien Mai
Date: February 21, 2016
Subject: User Test Memo

Introduction
In order to conclude the liability and usefulness of a specific WikiHow instruction
set, a usability test was constructed for How to make Chiles Rellenos with Cheese
directions. The purpose of this WikiHow is to successfully display the directions on how
to make a traditional Mexican dish. In addition to that, it also has a purpose of
introducing new food options into the American culture because of the authenticity of
this dish. Furthermore, it gives a peek at what the Mexican culture can bring into the
culinary community with its different spices and flavors. With this, readers can not only
improve their horizons of food choices but this guide also help readers do this with
ease. This set of instructions is written to interest those who enjoy trying new traditional
flavors and those who just need a quick and easy meal to make for their family or
themselves. The directions are written in a concise but yet appealing manner. It includes
many pictures to help guide the readers through out the process in order to further
make the process effortless. In order to fully evaluate the usefulness and
successfulness of this set of instructions, a performance and understandability test was
included. In general, the test was created to detect and complications with the set of
instructions provided.

Objectives
The purpose of the usability test is to obtain usable information that could help
conclude the effectiveness and comprehensiveness of the instruction set. Additionally, it
is simply designed to detect and flaws within the guide itself to which will be altered. As
stated by Anderson, in order to construct a test that accurately predicts how your target
audience will respond to your finished communication, you must pick test readers who
truly represent your target readers (381). In other words, the objective is to correctly
choose the right participants to test out the instruction set in order to obtain the best
results for any changes to be made for the finished guide. The goal of this test is to
detect and defects in the guide that may be confusing to users. Furthermore, this test is
also designed to obtain any positive and negative responses from participants that
could potentially improve the guide itself. The desired instruction set will be able to
guide the readers in a concise, quick, and successful manner. Therefore, the results
and responses from the usability test will help provide any tips that could potentially
make the instruction set be at its best.

February 21, 2016

Method
Test summary and background
The test readers for the usability test will be one who has background skills and
knowledge of how to cook and the other will be one with little to no knowledge of
cooking and culinary background. These are the preferred testers because if both
successfully complete the test with ease than this will further prove that the guide is
usable by all users with various knowledge and experience, from the beginners to the
experts. In other words, the usability test is presented to the testers in a concise and
brief questionnaire before and after they actually preform the task. The first
questionnaire provides background on each user and what levels of expertise they are
currently at relating to culinary skills and knowledge of Mexican heritage. The second
questionnaire discusses the results of the tests and is what ultimately determines if
there should be any alteration in the instruction set. This second set of question will
follow the performance test. The performance test is the actual testers taking action and
following each step in the guidelines to complete the task to its completeness. The
second set of questions also acts as an understandability test because it assesses the
knowledge and results that each tester acquired throughout the test.
Performance Test
During this section of the usability test, the testers follow the guidelines step by
step and try to accomplish the task assigned to its fullest capacity. As discussed by
Anderson, in order to test a drafts effectiveness at helping its readers perform a
procedure, you could simply give the draft to you test readers and watch them use it
(382). In other words, this means that during this test, observations of how the testers
perform each procedure will be the best way to obtain and necessary flaws in the draft.
Understandability Test
The understandability test is used to determine if the testers can read each
procedure and comprehend each step accurately. In addition to this, the testers are
questioned after the performance test about what they can recall about each procedure
and site them back with their best ability. The testers were specifically asked if they
could recall how to specifically cut each pepper, why the peppers were placed into
plastic bags, etc. Throughout this test, the testers were specifically told to try to be as
honest as possible in order to determine if the draft needed any adjustments and to
assure that the testers could comprehend each guideline fully.

Results and Discussion


When the task was given to a tester with less experience and culinary
knowledge, there were some interesting yet helpful results that indicated any necessary
changes in the draft of guidelines. As indicated by the questionnaire prior to the
performance test, the tester has never cooked a meal or touched a stove before. During
the performance test, the tester was observed cautiously throughout each step. There
were some complications with knowing when it was the right time to place the peppers
into the pan because the tester didnt know how long to wait until the oil was hot
enough. Other than this portion, the tester was able to accomplish the task successfully
and thoroughly. During the understandability test, the tester was also able to recite each

February 21, 2016

step in the guidelines with ease and even stated that the instructions were concise and
to the point.
When the task was given to the tester with more experience and culinary
knowledge, the results could be predicted that this tester will complete this task with no
complications. This could be predicted because of the higher level of expertise that the
tester indicated having in the questionnaire prior to the actual performance test. While
performing the task, this tester was observed thoroughly. There were no signs of
complications or flaws. The tester followed each step easily and indicated that the
pictures provided further helped make the task more understandable. In the
understandability portion, this tester too, was able to recite each step when asked and
successfully indicated any important cautions that were inputted into the guide.

Conclusion
The results for the usability test indicated that the instruction set needs little
improvement and that any level of expertise could easily conduct each procedure
successfully. The tests main section that indicated some improvement was when the
lower skilled tester was performing the task. The specific revision that was necessary
was just another additional step that could now help any levels of expertise in cooking
and culinary knowledge recreate the dish without any problems.

References
Anderson, Paul V. "Chapter 18: Testing Drafts for Usability and Persuasiveness."
Technical Communication: A Reader-centered Approach. 8th ed. Boston:
Thomson/Wadsworth, 2014. 378-92. Print.