Multimedia:User research

From Wikimedia Usability Initiative

Types of user testing

  • Focus group (group process): presenting ideas and designs to a small group of people and observing how they react to them. Discussion between members of the group is critical[1]. Goal: getting a quick view of how people feel about ideas in the early stages of the product's development.
  • Usability testing (one-to-one interview): observing how individuals use the product, the difficulties they encounter while using the product and performing specific tasks. Goals: getting more familiar with the users' mental model(s), identifying critical issues and testing improvements.

User research plan

A quick analysis shows that:

  • The team is already aware of critical issues with the upload process and workflow.
  • The community of users is happy to provide information and feedback on a continuous basis.
  • The more usability studies, the more information we get and the better the product becomes. But we have to optimize the use of our limited budget, and we can't afford many full-scale usability studies.

As a consequence, we propose the following research plan:

  • Preliminary user research in the very early stages of the project: interviews of users, discussions with stakeholders, focus groups (Multimedia meeting in Paris) and online survey(?).
    Timeline: October-November 2009
    Type: formative testing[2]
    • Observing and understanding why and how users use the product
    • Identifying or confirming critical issues that users encounter during its use
    • Collecting input from various stakeholders
  • Formal usability study six months later: "classic" study with usability firm, lab etc. Participants would be confronted with two interfaces: the initial interface as it was before any improvement, and a prototype interface with some improvements based on the preliminary research
    Timeline: February/March 2010
    Type: both formative and summative testing
    • Formally validating the issues identified by the preliminary study
    • Checking progress and improvements of the prototype
    • Letting users show us issues that may be masked before by more critical problems that we fixed in the meantime[3].
  • Formal usability study at the end of the project: Possibly with a reduced number of participants.
    Timeline: October 2010
    Type: mostly summative testing
    • testing improvements and identifying remaining issues.


  • S. Krug, Don't make me think: A common sense approach to web usability, Second edition, 2006.
  • A. Cooper, R. Reiman & D. Cronin, About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design, Wiley, 2007.

Notes and references

  1. Krug 2006, p.133
  2. For more information about formative vs. summative testing, see Usability Testing Demystified, Dana Chisnell, A List Apart, October 6, 2009.
  3. Krug 2006, p.139