Usability Test

I’ve gotten involved with a software usability study for a specific brand of software.

It’s not laboratory informatics software but I have an interest in learning more about usability and UX (User Experience). I’m not looking to make myself an expert but I think it’s useful to learn something about issues such as these to have an understanding of what is involved with them.

For example, my project management experience makes it easier for me to be a developer on a project where I work with a project manager (PM) than if I had no experience with it. I better understand what the PM needs and is trying to get from me.

While I do understand that many of the tools we use in the laboratory informatics industry are not particularly user-friendly compared with products of some other industries, it doesn’t mean that I can’t make some effort to try and make what I produce somewhat better than it might be if I made no effort.

While users can’t necessarily appreciate that, as there will not be a “before” and a “after” for them to compare, I still believe that whatever efforts I make and no matter how small will somehow be reflected in some ease-of-use or other hard-to-measure benefit.

On a different topic, learning new things is critical to keeping our brains active and our outlooks fresh. Some of you might say that I’m fresh enough already but I’m still working on it.  😉

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

2 responses on “Usability Test

  1. Couldn’t agree more, Gloria! I’ve been brushing up on UX myself, and struggling to figure out how to make lab informatics more user-friendly. It’s complicated!

    • A couple possibilities I’d like to pass along for anyone that might find them useful:
      1. Read the book “The Inmates are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity” by Alan Cooper. It does discuss the age-old issue that developers create these systems based on project goals more than for usability and, of course, we can all tell when we use these systems.
      2. For people who live in somewhat larger cities, there are sometimes UX groups that regularly meet and CHI (Computer Human Interaction) groups. Boston had them and I there’s a CHI group here in Ann Arbor, Michigan, US (and they do sometimes specifically discuss UX). So, there are quite a few of them around. Some of them are offshoots of ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) and there’s a link on this page for local chapters.

      Since so many people travel and have busy evenings, the meetings aren’t always a good possibility, which is why I also included the book suggestion (as if any of you have time to read, you’re about to ask me? sigh…I know what you’re saying!).

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