Usability Study

Understanding users through personas, a heuristic evaluation, and a user test

As a technical writer, knowing and understanding my users is extremely important. Without user research, I wouldn’t know whether my user guides or videos are useful at all. Not every company has a separate user experience expert to do this research for me, and even if they do, understanding how it’s done is helpful when I incorporate the results into my documentation.

View the full report here.

If you’re interested in learning more about how I incorporate user test results into my documentation and videos, check out my first generation user guides, my revised user guide, or my edited video.

Components of the Usability Study

Personas

The two personas I created are realistic, tangible representations of the user group I researched, based on interviews with real users of the website.

Persona-led heuristic evaluation

Based on the interviews, I created a list of tasks to perform as I walked through the website pretending to be one of my personas. I evaluated how well these tasks went based on a set of expert heuristics.

User test

After performing the heuristic evaluation myself, I adjusted my tasks to better fit my users’ goals, and set up a user test with four real users of the website. I asked them to perform the tasks while thinking aloud, and I took notes on their thoughts and their actions. I also asked them several quantifying questions after each task.

Results

At the end of the user test, I compiled my results, scoring each problem as Major, Moderate, or Minor. I explained why it was a problem for my testers and then gave recommendations for the website to fix them. I also pointed out further areas of study that came to light based during the user test.

Click to expand the image on the right for one page of results, or view the full report here.