Refining the Test Phase of Usability Evaluation: How Many Subjects Is Enough?

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Abstract:

Attention has been given to making user interface design and testing less costly so that it might be more easily incorporated into the product development life cycle. Three experiments are reported in this paper that relate the proportion of usability problems identified in an evaluation to the number of subjects participating in that study. The basic findings are that (a) 80% of the usability problems are detected with four or five subjects, (b) additional subjects are less and less likely to reveal new information, and (c) the most severe usability problems are likely to have been detected in the first few subjects. Ramifications for the practice of human factors are discussed as they relate to the type of usability test cycle employed and the goals of the usability test.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 1992

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