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What’s the problem? Studies on identifying usability problems in user tests

This is the kind of muttering researchers in a usability lab often hear when users are having trouble performing a given task with the product or prototype being tested./strong>

The activity the researcher is performing in this situation is called conducting a usability test: a test to find out what difficulties people run into when they are trying to use a (newly designed) product. During the usability test and in inter views or analyses afterwards, the researcher will try to figure out why the user experienced a given difficulty and what product characteristics contributed to that. Once the problem is understood, a designer can attempt to redesign the product’s characteristics so that the chance of future users running into the same difficulty is minimized.

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