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Designing and Implementing a Low-Cost Usability Testing Laboratory: Theoretical Justifications and Practical Considerations

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Purpose : To share advice about how to create a low-cost usability testing lab based on the results of a year-long process of acquiring funding for a lab that supports Angelo State University's faculty, staff, and students.

Methods: Literature review of usability testing labs, trends, and theories; a case study of designing and implementing a usability lab.

Results: While there are numerous descriptions and justifications for labs in usability textbooks (Barnum, 2011; Rubin & Chisnell, 2008), Web sites (Nielsen, 1994), and articles (Potosnak, 1990; Blatt et al., 1994), changes in usability technology and decreasing prices allows for the development of new, cost-efficient laboratories in locations that have historically not contained labs, such as small university campuses. This article shares how Angelo State University created an up-to-date, personalized, on-campus lab based on past and contemporary trends in usability testing.

Conclusions: A usability lab on a university campus is possible to build, even with limited funding. Moreover, a step-by-step guide reveals that there are 1) strong theoretical reasons for constructing a usability lab, and 2) practical solutions for how to implement a design.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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