UCLIC Research Seminar Series
Usability testing has long been a core interest of HCI research and forms a key element of industry practice. Yet our knowledge of it presents striking absences. There are few, if any detailed accounts of the contingent, material ways in which usability testing is actually practiced. Further, it is rare that industry practitioners' testing work is treated as indigenous and particular (instead subordinated as a 'compromised' version). In order to begin tackling these absences I present an ethnomethodological study of usability testing practices in a design consultancy. By using an ethnomethodological approach we can unpack how findings are produced in and as the work of observers analysing the test as it unfolds between moderators taking participants through relevant tasks. This study nuances conventional views of usability findings as straightforwardly 'there to be found' or 'read off' by competent evaluators. Primarily I will explore how evaluators / observers collaboratively work to locate relevant troubles in the test's unfolding. In the course of doing this work, the talk also investigates how potential candidate troubles may routinely be dissipated and effectively passed over in one way or another. The implications of this work suggest refinements to current understandings of usability evaluations, and affirm the value to HCI in studying industry practitioners more deeply.
Stuart Reeves is Assistant Professor in Computer Science at the University of Nottingham, and is a member of the Mixed Reality Lab and Horizon. He recently held an EPSRC Fellowship investigating the connections between academic HCI research communities and the work of practitioners in UX/IxD/IA and other design professions (EP/K025848/1). Stuart's research interests span human-computer interaction, collaborative computing, and design research, while his approach is informed by ethnomethodology and conversation analysis (EMCA). He is also author of the book Designing Interfaces in Public Settings.