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usability testing [was: Proposing <indent> vs. <blockquote>]

From: David Dailey <david.dailey@sru.edu>
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2007 12:50:56 -0400
Message-Id: <6.2.5.6.1.20070416120523.01e2f250@sru.edu>
To: Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis <bhawkeslewis@googlemail.com>,public-html@w3.org
Cc: w3c-lists@mikeschinkel.com

At 10:14 AM 4/15/2007, Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis wrote:
>Since helping authoring tools is now within its remit, should not the
>Working Group conduct some actual usability testing with ordinary people
>from different constituencies and with various abilities (e.g. geeks who
>aren't web professionals, technophobic newbies, political bloggers,
>MySpace users, people with visual or mobile or learning disabilities) of
>different authoring forms? It is impossible to settle the question of
>whether there are better models for web authoring than WYSIWYG or text
>editor authoring without first developing tools exploring such models.
>But we could at least assess how easy people really find using HTML with
>current WYSIWYG and text editor systems (and learn how to make both
>easier and produce superior markup).
>
>In addition, should not the Working Group conduct some actual usability
>testing for each feature, or at least each new feature, in HTML5?

And at almost the same time 
(http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2007Apr/0893.html) I wrote:

 >Would it make sense to sit down and sketch out the six or eight or 
seventeen primary types of web developers (and users), make a brief 
stab at identifying their needs (perhaps by actually rounding some up 
and giving them a questionnaire of some sort) or at least 
guaranteeing that those constitutencies are represented here, and 
then use that to figure out just what are we talking about when we're 
talking about breaking things?

 >For example:
 >browser developers (Apple, Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera, etc.)
 >corporate sites whose business is primarily internet based (Google, 
Amazon, EBay, etc.)
 >large sites with mission-critical dependence on web (governments, 
health care, universities)
 >web development consultants and companies (those who build pages 
for other companies)
 >stand-alone single authors (faculty, bloggers, wiki-contributors)
 >people who are currently in read only mode (the folks who visit web pages)

 >I suspect Apple and Microsoft, given their large historic interest 
and investments in interface design, probably already have data 
germane to these questions.
  -------

Mike Schinkel later wrote 
(http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2007Apr/0937.html):

The problem there is it is a complex question so how does one accurately

design a usability study whose results would be valid?

That is a hard question to be sure. But I'll bet with some good 
methodology and experimental design, some multidimensional and 
nondimensional scaling and graph theory, some mixed model analysis of 
variance, some content analysis software,  a half-dozen volunteer 
programmers, and some generous matching funds (and talent?) from 
Apple and Microsoft, a pretty good study could be cobblied together 
and completed in a timely fashion.

If that worked out, then heck, we could see if W3C would incubate a 
collaborative engineering standards group to give the next round of 
these discussions some whizzier tools as well as (perhaps?) more 
efficient social methodologies to work with.

David Dailey
Received on Monday, 16 April 2007 16:51:23 GMT

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