Recently, I took part in a usability evaluation for a product. It was an interesting experience. As it happens, I know of plenty of products DO NOT try to do this with their products, and where it’s obvious that they don’t.
First of all, it was just a lot of fun for me and entirely in my wheelhouse. It played both on my intense testing skills and my attention to detail – I was able to give quite a lot of comments at each step in the software and the company building the software appreciated it. In fact, they asked me to do this all over again when they get their next version.
Anyway, as much as I had a great time doing this, I want to put a plug in for doing a usability evaluation. It illuminates what is obvious to the user and what isn’t. It brings quite a lot of issues to light. While a software vendor can’t possibly address every issue, they at least have a list to work off of, that they can prioritize and try to address the ones they think are most serious.
In this particular case, the vendor used people who knew a little something about the general type of software but who did not actually know their brand in detail. By doing this, they had fresh eyes looking at their screens. As such, they had people who weren’t entirely lost but who didn’t know what to expect, either.