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CHIFOO: Why It’s Time to Move Beyond the Usability Lab

University of Oregon Portland
70 NW Couch Street
Portland, Oregon 97209, US (map)



Why It’s Time to Move Beyond the Usability Lab

Usability labs and similar settings have served us well for 30+ years of research and practical study of human interfaces. But it’s time to move beyond that and leverage the power of the web.

In the early days of computers, when users tended to be much more uniform, usability labs and their associated smaller numbers of study participants worked well. The internet, web, and proliferation of mobile devices have changed things. It’s hard to imagine someone who wouldn’t be a candidate user for the applications that many of us design and develop these days. We also know much more about what works and doesn’t work for users. Now, instead of being used to uncover major design issues, usability testing is often used to identify small design improvements that can make a big impact to a company’s bottom line.

Thomas will present case studies and discuss the pros and cons of some of the latest trends in usability testing, from “crowd-sourcing” to automated techniques for metric collection.

About the Speaker Thomas S. Tullis., Ph.D., is Vice President of Usability & User Insight at Fidelity Investments. He joined Fidelity in 1993 and was instrumental in the development of the company’s usability team and a state-of-the-art Usability Lab. He received his B.A. from Rice University, M.A. in Experimental Psychology from New Mexico State University and Ph.D. in Engineering Psychology from Rice University.

With more than 30 years of experience in human-computer interface studies, Thomas has published over 35 papers and holds eight U.S. patents. Prior to Fidelity, he held positions at Canon Information Systems, McDonnell Douglas, Unisys Corporation, and Bell Laboratories. He is co-author (with Bill Albert) of the book Measuring the User Experience: Collecting, Analyzing, and Presenting Usability Metrics, and co-author (with Bill Albert and Donna Tedesco) of the new book Beyond the Usability Lab: Conducting Large-scale User Experience Studies. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Bentley University, where he teaches in the graduate program in Human Factors in Information Design.