e-Talk Radio: Pettichord, Bret, 8 February 2001

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like a Web usability expert, particularly, in light of the short development cycles for the Web?

Carol: Good question. Bret, I will let you jump in there first.

Bret: Okay. I am not sure that I got the whole question. He was asking who would be a good usability expert.

Caller: Yes, particularly, given that the Web's development cycle is so condensed.

Bret: Well, I have done usability testing myself, and the kinds of testing that I have done that is that we try to get people in who are similar to the user community, and we observe how they use the product when it is in development. Now, that can be hard to do because you cannot really do that kind of testing until you already have something that is ready to go. By then, it may be difficult to change. Some people like to use the paper prototyping method, which I have not had a chance to use, but I would like to sometime. Where you just try to lay out the screens and you could do it in paper or say fake it in straight HTML. You could say, here is what you are going to see, what would you do when you see this screen. What would you click on? What would you think? And walk people through design that way. I have seen good results from that kind of technique for developing and of the user understanding of the product.

Carol: I will add my two cents worth when we get back from these short messages, and we will summarize this week's show with Quality Plus E-Talk with Carol Dekkers. We will be back shortly...We have been talking this week to Bret Pettichord who is part of Pettichord Consulting. Bret, would you like to give out your Web site address for anyone that is interested in going out and seeing it?

Bret: Sure. It is at pettichord.com, and you can find my software testing hot list there as well as some other stuff about what I do.

Carol: We have a link on our Web site that goes directly from our radio show listing to your particular Web site if you go under Bret Pettichord for show number six. The caller that we just had, Greg, asked what would be a way of testing the usability and who could do the testing? One of the things that we found with our own corporate Web site, is that sometimes we are not sure exactly who is shopping or who is buying because the Internet and Web development is absolutely open to anybody. Anybody who previously may or may not have phoned you, now is really on a 24-hour access, 7 days a week, and can come in and look at your site, and browse and look for things. I know that Software Quality Engineering, one of the things that they did with the stickyminds.com Web site is that they actually put out a prototype and asked their users, what would you like to see? I think that sometimes, we in development, we who are in technical fields, think that it is cheating to ask users what they want and then give it to them. That is just too easy. So, I think sometimes we just have to bite the bullet and say what do you want and then give people what they want. Do you agree, Bret? What do you think?

Bret: Oh yes. I think there are a lot of ways. I think that developers in general like being told what to do. They are

About the author

Bret Pettichord's picture Bret Pettichord

Bret Pettichord is an independent consultant specializing in software testing and test automation. He co-authored Lessons Learned in Software Testing with Cem Kaner and James Bach and edits TestingHotlist.com. He is currently researching practices for agile testing. Contact him at www.pettichord.com or bret@pettichord.com

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