Trends in usability testing inventions

Where is usability testing heading? One way to answer that is to follow the trends in patents. Inventions in usability testing patents show a trend toward equipping the usability professional with affordable toos to analyse behaviour patterns. In recent years, patents emphasized the ability to share a screen with a remote user. Over the history of user testing, patents have emphasized other aspects like screen-capture, non-linear video-editing, or digital control of video-taped sessions. Here is a brief history of two decades of usability testing advances, and some examples of patents that typify the progress:

Test and observe remotely
In 2005, TechSmith patented an automated system for remote usability testing – starting, conducting, capturing, synchronizing, stopping, and saving a usability test; allowing a remote viewer to observe. It allows a manager to configure the usability test, analyze the recording files, and prepare presentation videos.

Automate testing 
In 2003, IBM patented automated usability testing – prompting a user to perform tasks in an application, collecting data, emailing data, and controlling the test.

Measure task performance 
In 1998, Lucent patented how to measure usability – Usability Performance Indicators quantitatively measuring Goal Achievement, Work Rate Usability, and Operability.

Capture human factors data 
In 1992, IBM patented how to test human factors – capturing human factors data, including screen images and associated keystrokes entered during a user session, measuring time intervals.

Prototype for evaluation 
In 1989, IBM patented the simulation of computer program interfaces – to allow users to evaluate the design of the program before program code is created.

Where will usability testing go next? How can you keep up as an organization? Will technology minimize the need for skilled professionals as it minimized the need for audio/video and computer technicians? We think tools have made skilled professionals even more demand. The patents above build on patents before them. So you can watch who builds on TechSmith’s patent, for instance. One such example lets a remote participant record and send a multimedia capture of a usability session – this patent for user control of a usability recording. But as technologies continually optimize the time and investment required to do usability testing, one thing has not been replaced – the usability professional. With each new technological leap, there is more demand for qualified usability professionals – to plan and conduct usability testing, and to translate findings into an improved user experience.

Let us help you do that. Let us bring the latest in usability testing to your project. We are TechSmith’s representative in Canada for their Morae and UserVue usability testing solutions, using TechSmith’s patented screen capture technologies. Leading-edge user-evaluation methods are more affordable than ever before. Email us for a demonstration of how to put Morae or UserVue to work for you.

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