From Better Desktop
Better Desktop is a project dedicated to sharing usability data with Linux developers. Over the past year, we have conducted many usability tests on different parts of the KDE and GNOME desktops. We created this site to serve as a place where developers can watch videos of these tests. Here you will find over 200 videos of people using Mozilla Firefox, Evolution, Open Office, Banshee, F-Spot and other applications. All of these can be found in the data section of this site.
The video repository on this site is growing. We will continue to add video as we produce it. Please visit us again soon to see what is new.
Why We Do Usability Testing
We do usability testing at Novell because we want Linux to be easy-to-use and easy-to-learn. Usability testing provides us with a reliable way to measure how well different software designs meet these goals.
We do usability tests for three main reasons:
- To find out which parts of a given design work well for our target audience and which parts don't. For example, we ran general tests on the F-Spot photo organizer because we wanted to gain an overall understanding of what its interface did well, and what it did poorly.
- To compare the effectiveness of various designs. For example, we ran comparison tests on KDM and GDM to figure out which program was more usable for members of our target audience.
- To verify that our specific usability goals have been satisfied. For example, after running several iterations of tests on the Gnome sound capplet, we proposed a set of changes to its user interface. After these changes were made, we ran a round of usability tests on the capplet to ensure that our changes did in fact help us to meet our goals for that tool.
Our testing methodology allows us to collect many kinds of data, including behavioral data, qualititative data, and quantitative data. Each of these types of data helps us to build better software in a different way:
- We collect behavioral data simply by watching our test subjects use our software. By paying close attention to what they are doing and saying as they go through our tests, we learn about their habits, their workflows and their expectations. This data helps us to gain a more complete understanding of how people in the real world relate to computers.
- We collect qualitiative data by videotaping our subjects as they think outloud about our software. This data helps us to make educated guesses about how to improve our designs. It helps us to understand how our test subjects feel about the software they are using. By paying attention to our test subjects' expressions, tones of voice, gestures and pauses, we can learn to improve the quality of their experience. We use qualititative data to help us make using our software pleasant.
- We collect quantitative data by keeping track of statistics like how many test subjects completed a given task correctly, the average time it took to complete a given task, the percentage of test subjects who gave up on a given task, etc. Over time, we will add more statistical data to this site.