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Using Test Results to Improve the Application

You need to test five to eight subjects to make sure that you've observed a high percentage of the usability issues in your application.

The outputs of your usability tests consist of lists of usability issues observed during the tests. For example:

  • "User didn't understand what the main menu said and hung up."

  • "User accidentally hit DTMF 3 and didn't understand the error message."

  • "User said, 'That's really dumb,' when he heard the help message."

If you have a typical application and one or two people to assist with observations, you might end up with a hundred or more usability issues. You need a good method for summarizing the results and deciding, in conjunction with other development team members, how to use the results to improve the application.

The following list briefly outlines a process to group, prioritize, and get agreement on resolutions for usability issues:

  1. Use the affinity analysis method to group issues that are closely related.

  2. Eliminate duplicated issues.

  3. Each team member should assign each usability issue a priority number:




    Must fix before any user touches this application.


    This is a significant usability issue that should be fixed before the application is deployed.


    This can wait until a later release of the application.


    This is not a usability issue.

  4. Facilitate a discussion to resolve priority disagreements, if needed.

  5. Develop strategies to resolve all priority 1 issues as well as all priority 2 issues that can be fixed within the available time.

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