DonnaM » Blog Archive » I bombed the usability quiz

I bombed the usability quiz

Who am I to criticise…according to the HFI usability and web site quiz, I should be calling them for help. Did you know that:

“Usability testing for a Web site can be performed optimally with

  • a. An initial list of potential functions
  • b. Human task flow diagrams”

Wow – I’d love to know how to usability test with an initial list of functions, and human task flow diagrams are my favourite technique.

“when writing for the Web one should … a. Avoid paragraphs”. What a great suggestion. My enter key is getting way too worn out anyway.

“To satisfy both novice and expert users, the best strategy for label and field alignment is…b. Left align both fields and labels”. What does this have to do with novices and experts? And what do we do for the perpetual intermediates.

During usability testing it is OK to “Keep the testing situation as ambiguous as possible” but is not OK to “Start out by showing the participants how the software works”. OK, I wouldn’t often go into a lot of detail about the software, but there are times where I would demo part of it, particularly in an early stage, exploratory test. But I would never, ever keep the testing situation ambiguous!

Go try the tests – see if you are worthy.

6 Responses to “I bombed the usability quiz”

  1. joe Says:

    I’ve always thought HFI were out in left field (American slang alert)–trying to be provocative and pithy just to sell services.

  2. Carolyn Snyder Says:

    “Keep the testing situation as ambiguous as possible”

    Well, OK, and obviously they live by their own rule :-) . Seriously, it’s hard to answer some of these questions out of context. I imagine that the true context of their quizzes is that they’re meant to be taken after some sort of HFI training.

    And it goes to show you (or perhaps I should say me, yet again) how hard it is to design an unambigous quiz or questionnaire. Donna interpreted “avoid paragraphs” as not breaking text into chunks. I interpreted it as avoid having chunks of text that demand reading rather than skimming. Both interpretations are correct, but HFI obviously had only the latter in mind.

    So I can’t decide whether to defend or criticize HFI… their quizzes aren’t perfect but if they get people to think a bit that’s not a bad thing. Do people simply swallow this bait without looking for the hook?

    Fortunately, the real world is an open-book essay exam, not a closed-book multiple choice quiz.

  3. Jurek Kirakowski Says:

    I did not expect as someone who has worked for over 25 years in the area to get 6/10! Mind you, the kinds of questions and answers they pose show that they speak ‘in suiis annnis.’ Being provocative is one thing, being plain dumb is another. If they are so careless about designing an MCQ, how careful will they be about evaluating your web site?

    I would no more trust a review of my website to them on this basis than I would to a bunch of sophomore electronic engineers – actually, give me the engineers!

  4. Maggie Says:

    Well, I am glad to know I am in good company. I too had difficulty with the questions Donna mentioned. My [wrong] answers evidently match hers. Of course, this “quiz” is really intended as a sales pitch, and HFI is not an educational organization, it is a training organization. I have attended part of one of their courses, and they provide a basic introduction to usability techniques. Someone who truly wants to learn about usability would do better to begin by reading Dumas and Redish or Jeff RUbin.

  5. Jamie Says:

    The questions and answers seemed pretty clear to me. As far as I can tell, HFI is just repeating what is basically common knowledge and accepted practice among usability practitioners. I got 9 out of 10 because I think vertical labels are even better than left-aligned. (See http://www.lukew.com/resources/articles/web_forms.html for details.)

  6. Jamie Says:

    The questions and answers seemed pretty clear to me. As far as I can tell, HFI is just repeating what is basically common knowledge and accepted practice among usability practitioners. I got 9 out of 10 because I think vertical labels are even better than left-aligned.