Usability refers to how well users can learn and use a product to achieve their goals and how satisfied they are with that process.
The Usability Team researches and evaluates internal and external MIT websites and applications using a variety of usability and user experience methods based on specific client needs and requirements.
Primary goals include:
- Building an awareness and understanding of the concepts of usability and user experience principles across the institute.
- Assisting product development groups in applying these principles to their work.
- Providing usability consulting services to clients across the institute and within IS&T.
Our Usability Lab located in Building E19 is used for a variety of evaluations, including usability testing:
- Testing/Control Room (E19-738A):This is where the actual evaluation takes place with a participant and a test facilitator. Cameras and broadcast equipment stream the evaluation into the Observation Room.
- Observation Room (E19-732): This is where observers can watch the usability evaluation through a video connection from the Testing/Control Room.
We have included a detailed description of the policies and procedures use of the MIT IS&T Usability Lab.
We are internal consultants to the entire MIT community and there is no change for our services.
We are a team of two experienced usability practitioners with a wide range of experience in both academics and the web and software industry.
Our services are integrated with the services of the Accessibility Team so that we can help our customers make their products usable to the widest possible user population.
Primary services and methods include:
An inexpensive, simple, and efficient way to group and sort extensive data into various sections and themes. Affinity diagrams can be used to analyze findings from other usability methods (e.g., user observations, interviews, surveys, usability tests), identify and group user functions as part of a design process, and uncover common problems from multiple customers.
A quick and inexpensive way to understand the user’s view of a website’s structure (navigation and labeling). Card sorting can be open or closed, done on paper or online, and repeated with different user groups to better understand common themes in the information architecture. We'll work with you to determine the best approach for your project.
Handwritten or electronic user entries used to track and record specific sets of activities or events consistently over a particular period of time.
Usability Expert assessment of websites or applications and identification of issues based on established usability principles. Improvement recommendations will be provided post-review. An expert review can help create a ‘baseline’ measure of usability needed for the product. In the early phase of a project, these are called "design reviews."
Obtain information about user preferences, understand behavioral patterns, and collect user data (demographics). Get answers to specific questions about a particular issue with a website or product.
Test sessions evaluate the effectiveness of a product with users and uncovers usability issues. Sessions take place in our Usability Lab with a facilitator asking questions as participants complete a series of predetermined tasks. An observation room where members of the project team can view the session is a key component of the methodology.
Interviews conducted to better understand user workflows, viewpoints, and opinions. Workflow and process are the primary topic of discussion, followed by open-ended questions. A Usability Expert should perform the interviews to minimize bias and leading questions.
Usability Expert assessment and interview of users as they work in their own environment with a focus on specific areas of interest. This is also called a "field study."
Projects must be MIT based; we do not work with outside clients.
To determine the appropriate usability methods for your needs, we advise scheduling a meeting to discuss your goals as early in the project timeline as possible. Contact us to request additional information or services.
Some of the more popular online usability resources are listed below.
General Usability & UX Information
- Usability Body of Knowledge
- Jakob Nielsen's Useit.com Website
- Boxes and Arrows: The Design Behind the Design
- Information Design.org Website
- Rosenfeld Media/UX Zeitgeist
- Usability Methods Table
Web Standards and Design Patterns
- Web Style Guide (3rd Edition)
- British Government Usability Toolkit Website
- Blog on (Corporate) Design Pattern Library
Government and Other Regulatory Institutions
Professional Usability Organizations