Oct 2006 Contents
Remote Usability: Insight into New Tools
By Mike Madaio
Mike Madaio is currently the Chief IA for QVC.com and the Secretary of PHICHI, the Philadelphia Chapter of the ACM SIGCHI. He also keeps a user experience-related blog at http://mikemadaio.com.
Ethnio and MindCanvas
One might think it strange that Bolt and Sinha chose to present together – after all these companies do play in the same space. Interestingly, however, both presenters feel that these products are not competitors, but wonderful compliments to one another, mainly because Ethnio is a facilitated testing solution while MindCanvas provides automated testing.
To engage possible testers, Ethnio displays invitations via DHTML; interested parties are asked to fill out a short qualifying survey. At the same time, a facilitator (or group of facilitators) can be monitoring the test queue to act quickly once a response is submitted. The test itself is conducted through both a phone and web connection. Ethnio’s server calls both parties and records the ensuing conversation; the user must also install a small program (either Active X, Firefox plug-in or EXE), which Bolt described as "by far the quickest desktop setup of all the remote products." After the test is complete, a flash video of the user's desktop is synched up with the telephone audio to produce a complete presentation of the test.
Enhancements to Ethnio are in the works; meeting attendees were happy to hear that event tagging and collaborative note-taking features should be implemented shortly, and that video editing is also on the way.
The speed with which users can be recruited for Ethnio allows for more testing to be done in a day that with normal recruiting methods, which can save both time and money. Some projects, however, require an even larger testing group, which is when Uzanto’s MindCanvas becomes a viable option.
Rashmi first showed off a brilliant flash-based card sorting game that supports complex features such as duplicate cards, groups within groups, and make-your-own card. By pulling the basics of traditional card sorting into this easily distributed format, MindCanvas can allow researchers to gather valid card-sorting data from a much larger audience. The flexible, detailed reporting tool ensures that this data can be used quickly and effectively.
Some other MindCanvas tools include:
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