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I am interested to know what some effective ways to determine and implement user experience would be. I think that user testing is a very effective one, i.e. getting people who are completely unfamiliar to the system using and testing it to determine it's Usability.

What are some other ways to achieve high standard Usability?

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The techniques to choose depends somewhat on how far along you are in building said website. For early stages usability testing with paper prototypes as you go along is a quick and inexpensive method to catch errors. It helps a lot in designing test scenarios, if you have good idea what users come to your site for.

Another good method early on is card sorting to find out your users mental models about the sites information architecture. In essence you write content to cards and have a bunch of users to sort those content pieces to groups and then name the groups. If you are tight on resources, I would recommend doing this with a remote web tool, like OptimalSort or WebSort.

Card sorting is also fine for later stages. For checking usability on finished sites, basic usability testing as you suggested would be fine. In general considering generally scarce resources, you are better of doing qualitative usability testing, which in general requires less users. However as with all usability testing and user centered design, you are better of if you can do the testing iteratively. Ie. a new round of tests after fixing the biggest problems previous round found.

I would also recommend having a few people inspect the site with the help of heuristics. One commonly used set of heuristics is Jakob Nielsen's. Do note that modifying the heuristics to your site's domain is likely to improve the results.

If you want to know more about usability and usability testing, I would recommend Steve Krug's books:

Both books are very easy reads and most importantly very short. Even slow reader can finish either in one sitting.

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Recommended literature to start with:

  • Cooper & Reimann & Cronin (2007): About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design
  • Kuniavsky, Mike (2009): Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner's Guide to User Research
  • Rubin, Jeff & Chisnell, Dana (2008): Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests, 2nd Ed.
  • Unger, Russ & Chandler, Carolyn (2009): A Project Guide to UX Design: For user experience designers in the field or in the making

On a side note: ‘getting complete noobs to the system etc.’ would only be good user testing, if your main audience consists of complete noobs and those would not even return to use the system again (which would soon turn them into intermediates – your main audience will very probably consist of those).

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There are many things to do to get a higher usability level of whatever product you are working on, they all depend on context. Usability testing, for example, can be done in a lot of different ways and some ways are more appropriate in some kinds of situations than other.

I use books and resources like http://www.deyalexander.com.au/resources/uxd/ or http://www.usabilitynet.org/tools/methods.htm to pick a few appropriate methods in my current project to get the data that I want.

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For a new project, doing initial testing with interactive wire frames will help you make critical decisions early on in the project.

A tool like Axure comes in handy for this type of testing and makes it easy to pass the experience decisions, behavioral aspects, and tested layout on to UI or Web Development, depending on your process.

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In user testing, i recommend also test your web/app with advance users(of your app), you'll see how can improve the web/app for those who are already experts.

There is a lot of techniques: CardSorting Escenarios Personas Surveys Interviews / Talking with real users

And many more.

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Finding some users, sitting down with them and watching them use your product is one of the most time and cost effective ways I know of for learning about how real people actually use the software.

As a resource, Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think has an excellent section on guerrilla usability testing. If you're looking for specific advice on how to setup and run a test without spending a ton of money, the book is a great starting place.

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