Our trip to the usability lab was quite interesting. They showed us how they observe users with a video camera, Morae software, and directly on the other side of a two-way mirror. Using these techniques, particularly in this lab, would certainly be useful for our project on OneStart’s Student Center. Recording and observing how the user interacts with the site in an unobtrusive manner like they do at the Wrubel Computing Center would better allow us to understand what might be improved. For example, the Morae software could record how many clicks it takes for the user to do a task and we could observe its level of difficulty. Then we might propose to simplify more difficult tasks by doing something like minimizing the number of clicks.
Actually being able to use this lab and software for our project, however, doesn’t seem likely because it is very expensive and used for professional purposes. Also, observing several people in this manner would be a time-consuming process. Although it would be helpful, simply interviewing people and following usability guidelines to propose changes to the Student Center will probably suffice. Overall, the field trip was useful by showing us how they actually test usability.