Usability testing is hell, but the software is cool!

Bruce Henry | March 4, 2008

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MoraeI’ve been doing a little bit of usability testing recently and stumbled on Morae from the folks at TechSmith. They’re the same folks that make Camtasia and my favorite piece of utility software SnagIt.

Now I’ve sat through a couple of usability studies in my time at Expedia but I never really thought through how the heck you go about capturing and scoring all the feedback that you get during a usability session. I’ve gotta say, Morae has completely exceeded my expectations for things like ease of use and intuitive interface. I guess one would hope so since they domake usability testing software.

The general idea is that you write a simple set of tasks that you want the user to try to perform. Then you record several people doing them (or trying to). The recorded files can then be pulled into a manager application that helps you score how the easily the users performed the tasks. You can also get timing information about how long it took them to do the tasks and a whole buncha other automagical data capture like mouse movements, clicks, keystrokes, pages viewed, time between inputs, etc.

There’s more data there (fo’ free!!) after recording a session than I’d ever know what to do with (okay, I exaggerate, I’m a total data junkie). But you get the idea.

Anyway, I have nothing but good stuff to say about this thing. The tool itself is so cool that I’m actually looking forward to doing some more usability testing.

One word of warning; Watch the demo videos! I’m not kidding, you’ll miss a good half of the awesome that is this product if you don’t. While the basic stuff is pretty self-explanatory, there’s all kinds of features for tagging parts of the video of the session and for scoring how the user was coping with your application (or whatever) that you’ll totally dig once you figure them out. And the videos really help get you up and running fast.

Well, I’m off to SXSW this week. If you’re going to be down in Austin feel free to look me up in the SXSW member directory and hit me up for drinks. I’m buying, but you’ll have to sit through a 20 minute LiquidPlanner usability test. 😉