Usability in a small company

Having as usability lab will definitely help you get some leverage. It is different when you say “according to our tests, 8 of 10 users can’t figure out how to register and I have the recording of their sessions to prove it”, compared to “I think the registration page is confusing.” As far as I know, only De LaSalle University has a usability lab here in the Philippines.

But for a small company with limited budget, you don’t need a lab. You could always do a hallway usability testing, which is simpler and cheaper. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Grab the next person that passes by the hallway.
  2. Force them (if please is not enough) to try the application/website/page you just wrote.
  3. Find another person.
  4. Repeat step 1 until you have 4 (or 5) people.

You don’t need to do it with many users. Jakob Nielsen has interesting study on this. According to him, if you ask 1 person to test, you will learn 1/3 of the problems. The 2nd person will add new insights but not as much as the 1st. The 3rd person will still add new insights but not as much as the 1st and 2nd users. As you add more users, you will learn less and less. What you don’t want to happen is a hundred people telling you the same thing. According to Nielsen, testing with 5 users would actually uncover 95% of the problems

As for getting your team to incorporate usability, it pays to have the approval of your boss. If you can make your boss say “I agree with that”, you have overcome a big hurdle. If can’t, you have to start with your team. You can conduct a 1-hour once-a-week session. I suggest you use Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think as a guide. Maybe discuss 1 or 2 chapters every session.

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