2Know Magazine: Sharing KM Knowledge
2Know: Sharing KM Knowledge
April 2013 - Magazine No. 163
April 2013 - Magazine No. 163
Written By Meirav barsadeh

Usability Testing is one of the most important research tools when designing a User Experience. This examination introduces the product to current or potential users (depending on the purpose of the examination and product) in order to check how those users cope with the product. The product can be either an object or a program. The same principles apply in both cases.

Usability vs. Usefulness:

Usability is the ability to cope with the site/system and perform the expected actions;

Usefulness is the value received from using the site/system.

When testing usability, the central question we would like to ask is: how much cognitive effort should the user incest in order to reach the desired information. In order to answer this question, we can use other guideline questions:

Have the users found what they were looking for?

Were mistakes made along the way?

Has the user experienced any dilemmas along the way?

Is the system comfortable and enjoyable to use?


We are not referring to a one-time process. Usability tests can be performed during different stages of the project, for different reasons:

  • Before beginning a project in order to check the current situation.
  • During the project, when initial Wireframes are conceived, even if only on paper, in order to check the design: does the design meet the usability standards defined in the project? Do the users work with it in an efficient, satisfying manner? Many a time we discover places in which users become 'lost', i.e. don't know how to complete the task they were appointed.
  • Near a project's completion, when the graphic design or even the prototype is available, in order to review the design.
  • When the project is completion in order to perform Quality Assurance tests.
  • Occasionally, when the product/program is already in use, in order to review the changes.


Usability tests can be performed in one of three ways:

  • In a Usability Lab, i.e. in a special room adapted to this purpose on some level, containing: recording devices, a one-way mirror, etc.
  • Frontally, instructor in front of user: a one-on-one usability test can reveal quickly a vast amount of information on the way people use the product.
  • Remote Testing.


There are several ways and services to perform remote usability tests (i.e. tests conducted with the test subjects not facing the examiners):

  1. The Five Second Test: presenting certain contents for five seconds only, followed by several questions regarding the viewed content, such as:
  • What is the service offered by the organization?
  • What action should be performed on the page (sign up, download etc.)
  • What is the name of the company?

This method can assist in examining the user's memory regarding contents/design/sales offers etc. In this test, each subject types the answer by hand.

  1. Click Test: Presenting certain contents then asking the subject to click on a certain area. This method can assist in examining various design versions by requesting to click on the best version. The results can assist in examining where the users have clicked the most and the average time it took till the user clicked.
  2. The website's navigation flow: examining the site's routes, such as the route from the landing page leading to the purchase or registration. In this case, it is interesting to test the average time it takes to complete the test.
  3. Testing subjects with a personal composition: composing a questionnaire comprised of tasks and receiving the results from a private test subject.
  4. Feedback: the simple and quick way to test a certain item on a page is through prepared answers or free test. We can then shortly receive efficient feedbacks on questions such as:
  • Have you found all the information on the products?
  • What stops you from purchasing the product? (After an extended period of staying on the page.
  • Are our packages clear to you? (On the package purchasing page).

Whether you have a finished product, a prototype or even merely screens designed in Photoshop, a quick check can quickly reveal the product's central usability problems. This way you can save much pain for the users and guesses for yourselves, trying to understand why the product isn't as successful as you hoped.

Good Luck!


Written By Anat Bielski

Lesson Learning processes are performed as part of investigating projects and processes that enable the organization to learn from past events and thus prevent making these mistakes in the future. The lesson learning process enfolds many challenges:

  1. Lack of time: in order to perform an in depth lesson learning process from an event it is mandatory to conduct an in-depth discussion with as many participants and perceptions as possible. This requires many time resources, especially on behalf of the participants.
  2. Psychological & cultural barriers: the lesson learning process s sometimes referred to in professional jargon an 'investigation'. There are obvious worries and psychological reluctance on behalf of the organization workers from the term, which complicates dealing with this process. Furthermore, people involved in a project have a tendency to blame others while defending themselves. Therefore, using lesson learning processes is relevant only in a suitable organizational culture i.e. an environment in which the workers express willingness to learn and management is prepared to search for solutions rather than a culprit and the organization in general is open to criticism and changes.
  3. Lessons that cannot lead to tasks: the purpose of debriefing is learning for future events, whether if learning for an immediate change (tasks) or learning through improved future conduct (lessons).


How can these challenges be overcome?

It is recommended that the process leader will not be someone related to the project and that he/she will be someone with relevant experience that can follow performances but will not be accounted for his/her actions in the failed project. Furthermore, managing the process requires skills; in order to create implementable quality lessons the process manager must be well versed in lessons learning methodologies and their operation. In many cases, the process managers find differentiating between the process's different stages. This inhibits the lesson learning and affects its quality.


Managing lesson learning meetings

  1. Professional talk: An organizational manager directing the lesson learning will focus the meetings around the professional subject and will not allow the discussion to divert to specific accusations by (among other methods) not mentioning names when performing the lessons learning process and emphasizing that we are examining cases, not people.
  2. Explaining the process: the process manager can demonstrate the implementation of learning lessons in known content worlds unrelated to the work field: sports, aviation etc. Furthermore, give examples of lesson learning processes that provided workers with an actual edge, such as changing procedures, work processes etc.
  3. Short focused process: the tendency to delve into each detail can exhaust the participants and generate reluctance to attend the following meetings. Therefore, the process should be performed (if possible) in one short meeting.
  4. Sharing and transparency: throughout the execution of the process, create a dialogue between the meeting director and the participants. This purpose of this dialogue is to address arising oppositions while allowing partners to express their concerns. The focus of this stage is on 'showing all your cards' and having these concerns answered by an authorized manager.
  5. Unity: in the lessons learning process everyone is equal; do not let rank, experience or personality take over the conversation or divert it from collective learning.
  6. Focused aspects: An organizational manager directing the process, focusing the aspects (organizational/engineering/marketing/procedural) the process will deal with. The manager should prevent any diversion from this designated focus.
  7. Positive Ending: discussing the factors that caused the project's malfunction can cause a decline in the participants' morale and motivation. Therefore, it is important to end the meeting on a positive note and discuss the positive and successful sides of the project in order to remind everyone that things aren't all bad-some are actually very good.


Tips for leading a lessons learning process:

  1. A timeline: understanding the order in which the story of the project (and the events which comprise it) unfolded.
  2. Categories: Hand all participants blank cards. Then request each participant to write down the subjects that in his/her opinion are related to the project. Then place these cards on the board organized according to subjects: Critical, Technical, Procedural, Organizational etc.

Defining tasks-the subjects identified should be solved and made efficient via tasks defined for each subject. When there is a list of tasks to be performed, appoint someone to make sure the task is indeed performed correctly.

  1. AAR (After Actions Review): this is a methodology popular in the US and Europe. It is based on answering 4 main questions:
    1. What did you expect to happen?
    2. What actually happened?
    3. Why? (look for the cause explaining the gap between your expectations and reality)
    4. What are your recommendations derived from the situation?

The advantage of using this methodology is derived from its simplicity. It is easy to operate, the questions are clear and the process is promoting; it can be implemented on events, processes and projects-both large and small.  The "Why" question (question 3) can be repeated several times, thus achieving a thorough understanding of the core elements. In any case, it is recommended to use a structured method that included forms and templates of the investigation process, use of questions focused on 'the big picture' and emphasizing "what was done" rather than "who did it". 

  1. Choose one organized method that will assure uniformity of the organization's lessons learning process as well as ensure uniformity in creating quality lessons. After completing the process it is recommended to distribute its products since it creates visibility and enables transverse sharing of the benefits produced in this process. The produced quality lessons that can be used throughout the organization serve as motivation to join the process.


In conclusion, a successful lessons learning process needs an orderly methodology, a skilled performer of the process as well as management of the cultural aspects of the process.

Written by Rom Knowledgeware
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