1. Usability testing doesn’t really have to cost. Recently, in a similar low/no-budget scenario [mostly because getting a budget for usability studies is hard to sell to muggles], we ripped off our betters to great success. The University of Michigan Libraries–they, too, having ripped off … the library escapes me, but it’s in an old Code4Lib article–went around ALA awhile ago talking about “X/O Participatory Design,” which is the money-language referring to patrons crossing things out on a screenshot. Between this and some card sorting exercises, we snagged more than 700 results – really, 700 printed-out screenshots [a few dead trees] with markings all over them. The insight was phenomenal.

    Eye-tracking and screen-capping individual users can be valuable, but it represents just a few people who even collectively can’t *really* represent the widely varied constituencies and “types of public patrons” that use the library.

  2. This is what I’m talking about – usability testing on a budget! More libraries need to do this any way they can, but it did cost your time and the cost of the paper and ink :) I don’t want people think that any testing is completely free of cost, but do want them to know that the tiny investment of time, paper, ink (and maybe chocolate for bribes) is all that’s needed.

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