usability testing, usability, technical communication, technical documents
In my thesis I discuss the cost effectiveness of usability testing of technical documents and how any size company with any size budget can implement usability testing. Usability is achieved when the people who use products or technical documents can do so quickly and easily to accomplish their own tasks. Usability testing is best defined as the process of studying users to determine a documentation project's effectiveness for its intended audience. Users are tired of dealing with confusing and unintuitive technical documentation that forces them to either call customer service for help on simple issues or throw out the product in favor of one that is more usable or provides better technical documentation. That is why all technical communicators should include usability testing as part of the technical documentation production cycle. To help technical communicators understand the importance of usability testing, I discuss the cost effectiveness of usability testing and share ways that companies with large budgets and companies with small budgets can begin incorporating usability testing. Then I provide information on all the steps that are necessary for technical communicators to implement usability testing of technical documentation at their company. Options are presented for everything from bare minimum usability testing with a shoe-string budget with pencils, note pads, and only a handful of users to full scale usability testing in large laboratories with the latest equipment and a wide variety of users. The research provides examples from real companies, advice from experienced technical communicators and usability experts, and research demonstrating how many resources are truly required to benefit from usability testing. By showing technical communicators that usability testing is cost effective and that there are many options for implementing usability testing no matter how large or small their budget is, I hope to empower technical communicators to start including usability testing as part of the documentation production cycle at their companies.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Collins, Meghan, "Implementing Usability Testing Of Technical Documents At Any Company And On Any Budget" (2010). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4372.