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Group Usability Testing: Evolution in Usability Techniques

Laura L. Downey

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 2, Issue 3, May 2007, pp. 133-144


Usability testing has a long history. In its early form, it was conducted with many individual participants much like traditional research experiments. With the advent of discount usability engineering techniques, fewer participants were required (5-7 versus 30-50) and protocols were simplified. The evolution from “many to few” in usability testing has become the standard in formative testing. What is the next tool in our toolbox?

This paper introduces a formative method called “group usability testing.” It involves several to many participants individually, but simultaneously, performing tasks, with one to several testers observing and interacting with participants. The idea for group usability testing arose as an answer to limited time resources and the availability of many users gathered together in one place. The approach is described via a case study. Data characteristics, benefits and drawbacks of group usability testing are discussed. Additionally it is compared/contrasted with individual usability testing, co-discovery, task-based focus groups, and cooperative usability testing.

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Group Usability Testing: Evolution in Usability Techniques