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Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests, Second Edition by Jeffrey Rubin, Dana Chisnell, Jared Spool

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Chapter 6. Set Up a Testing Environment

For many of those contemplating the implementation of a usability testing program, the discipline has become synonymous with a high-powered, well-appointed, well-equipped, expensive laboratory. For some organizations, the usability lab (and by that we mean the physical plant) has become more prominent and more important than the testing process itself. Some organizations, in their zeal to impress customers and competitors alike with their commitment to usability, have created awe-inspiring palaces of high-tech wizardry prior to laying the foundation for an ongoing testing program. Not realizing that instituting a program of user-centered design requires a significant shift in the culture of the organization, these organizations have put the proverbial cart before the horse, in their attempt to create instant programs, rather than building programs over time.

This approach to usability testing is rather superficial and short-sighted, and has a high risk of failure. It approaches user-centered design as a fad to be embraced rather than as a program that requires effort, commitment, and time in order to have lasting effects on the organization and its products. It isn't uncommon for newly built, sophisticated usability laboratories to become the world's most elaborate storage rooms. Having succumbed to the misperception that equates the laboratory with the process itself, these organizations have discovered only too late that usability testing ...

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