Usability Testing

Westat offers a cohesive, research-based set of evaluation services to help clients understand the usability and impact of their software systems, web sites, and communication products. Westat researchers can assess the user experience and recommend the best methods for improving it.

Westat's usability evaluation services include

  • Focus groups, convening sessions on site in the facility's focus group room, or online
  • Heuristic reviews, using experts trained in evidence-based usability design to review the structure and content of web sites and software products
  • User modeling, employing analytic techniques such as card sorting and server log analysis to build models of user behavior
  • Low-fidelity/high-fidelity prototyping, creating testable versions of designs early in the design or redesign process
  • Cognitive interviewing techniques, conducting concurrent and retrospective "think-aloud" procedures
  • Comparative user studies, statistically comparing performance and attitude measures from two points in time or across products

Westat has a usability testing facility for conducting in-depth one-on-one interviews; cognitive testing of survey instruments; and usability studies of web sites, software applications, and other projects where the user interface is a critical issue.

Westat's usability testing facility was designed to support

  • Unobtrusive observation of user behavior via one-way glass and multicamera video monitoring
  • Robotic control of pan, tilt, zoom, focus, and preset positions for each of the digital video cameras
  • Digital video recording from both the high-resolution digital cameras and the respondent's computer screen
  • Video switching and picture-in-picture (PIP) display
  • Event recording using a suite of data capture and behavioral coding software by Mangold International
  • Remote usability testing through synchronized network applications and video conferencing capabilities
  • Full analytic capabilities by exporting data from the laboratory for use with statistical analysis software