Usability: Week 4 Journal Entry

“If you know a thing only qualitatively, you know it no more than vaguely. If you know it quantitatively—grasping some numerical measure that distinguishes it from an infinite number of other possibilities—you are beginning to know it deeply. You comprehend some of its beauty and you gain access to its power and the understanding it provides.”
Sagan, C. (1997) Billions and Billions. Ballatine Books.

I’m learning much more in this class about the symbiotic relationship between the qualitative data and the quantitative data that is collected during a usability study, and how each of these elements is integral to the whole. Each part is only an aspect of understanding the information you collect in a study, and you need both in order to fully inform the design decisions that will come from these results. The ultimate success of the usability study stems from the careful evaluation of both sides.

You need the human factor of the qualitative data to provide context to your results. They bring in the users’ perceptions, feelings, motivations, and experience-based knowledge. But the quantitative data brings these human factors into relief, providing the measurable, observable, and reproducible element that gives validation to the contextual findings of the user experience.

In our reading this week, Philip Hodgson describes the significance of the qualitative/quantitative relationship in this way, “The discipline of usability is concerned with prediction. Usability practitioners make predictions about how people will use a website or product; about interaction elements that may be problematic; about the consequences of not fixing usability problems; and, on the basis of carefully designed competitive usability tests, about which design a sponsor might wisely pursue. Predictions must go beyond the behaviour and opinions of a test sample. We care about the test sample only insofar as they are representative of our target market of interest. But we can have a known degree of confidence in the predictive value of our data only if we have applied appropriate analyses.”
(Usability Test Data, http://www.userfocus.co.uk/articles/datathink.html)

We  created a Quantitative Measure of Usability Brief for the Chipotle website this week, proposing how we would evaluate the ordering process on the site in a usability study and how we would gather quantitative data and present it to the stakeholders.

This is my report: janelockhart_quantitativemeasure

(By the way, if you’re wondering if this class has made me constantly hungry with all the tacos and pizza in our weekly tasks, you’d be correct! I’ll let you know if I gain any weight by the end of the course! LOL!)


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