Monday, November 14, 2011

How people use websites and cloud software

This week we will be delivering a beta, or test version of the software we have developed to record patients (anonymously) who have agreed to participate in a double-blind medical trial.  We have already spent a considerable amount of time observing people using the website and using the results to improve the software.

One of the most significant lessons in all this "watching" is that people show us through their actions or behaviour, how they will use the website and often this differs to what they tell us they will do or want.

The research co-ordinators at Wellington ICU, who start using the software this week,  will be entering real data and giving feedback on the software. This is the 3rd stage of a simple process we use to find out how people actually use a website or piece of software. The 3 stages are:

Stage 1

During the first stage I gave a set of tasks to perform, on the website, to 3 people. Tasks like

  • log in to the website as a Research co-ordinator and invite other users within your site
  • randomise a patient and allocate a treatment pack to them
  • add 2 patients to the screening log
While my test subjects were performing the tasks I wrote notes on how they interacted with the website. We also videoed the session so we could go back and view the interaction. 

Stage 2

This stage was similar to stage 1 but this time we used people who would be using the software and had a background using medical trial software. Where stage 1 gave us information on how a person might interact with the software, stage 2 gave us information about how an informed user might interact with the software. An example of the difference is the people in stage 1 used the mouse to navigate the website and the forms, whereas the people in stage 2 used the mouse for navigation but used tabs for the forms.

Stage 3

In the 3rd stage the actual users of the software get a chance to "play" with it. The results of this stage are useful in familiarising the users with the software before they begin using it "for real" and they get to give us feedback. We use that feedback to correct any errors that may have slipped through our testing process and make subtle improvements to the website.

We use this information to make the website easier to use, make the software more efficient and to tell us if things are working the way the customer (or end user) is expecting them to work.

No comments:

Post a Comment