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MIISTAKIS Institute Usability Testing

CLIENT | MIISTAKIS Research Institute
TYPE | Heuristic Evaluation & User Testing
INDUSTRY | Environmental Research
DESIGN TEAM | Stephanie Stobart & Ezequiel Perdomo

MIISTAKIS is a research institute dedicated to communicating environmental knowledge to communities so that they can actively support and promote conservation. The Adapt-Action Tool is an initiative that MIISTAKIS has developed to provide municipalities with accessible information in the form of strategies. They wanted to ensure that the tool maximizes their user’s ability to access information quickly and efficiently. As a result, the design team was commissioned to perform a series of usability testing to provide MIISTAKIS with insight into the effectiveness, efficiency and user satisfaction with the tool.

Phase 1: Heuristic Evaluation

A heuristic evaluation is a usability inspection method for computer software that helps to identify usability problems in the user interface (UI) design. It specifically involves evaluators examining the interface and judging its compliance with recognized usability principles

Criteria for Evaluation (Jakob Nielsen’s Ten General Principles)

1. Visibility of system status
2. Match between system and the real world
3. User control and freedom
4. Consistency and standards
5. Error prevention
6. Recognition rather than recall
7. Flexibility and efficiency of use
8. Aesthetic and minimalist design
9. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
10. Help and documentation

Analyzing the Interface


The design team reviewed the Adapt-Action Interface individually and than combined observations and results to form a master report outlining key findings. By reviewing the interface first as individuals, the design team attempted to reduce bias in the results and increase the amount of usability issues identified.

Sample Issue: Formatting of Navigation Links 

The capitalization of every link makes figure 3 misleading, as some selections run over multiple lines and make it difficult to determine where selections begin and end. Additionally, figure 2 and figure 3 are formatted differently: figure 2 following sentence case, while figure 3 utilizes title case.Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 12.55.45 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-11 at 12.59.26 PM

Phase Two: Moderated User Testing

Moderated usability testing refers to evaluating a product or service by testing it with representative users. During a test session, participants try to complete typical tasks while moderators watch, listen and take notes.  The goal of this type of test is to identify any usability problems, collect qualitative and quantitative data and determine the participant’s satisfaction with the product.

Test Components

– 7 Test Participants
– 7 Task Questions
– Pre-Test Questionnaire
– SUS Questionnaire
– Post-Test Questionnaire

Metrics Collected

Task Completion
Measures the users success in completing a task. Pass or Fail.

Time on Task
The amount of time the user takes to notify the moderator when they believe they have completed the task

Confidence Level
Measures the users confidence in their success of the task

Negative & Positive Reactions
Qualitative information that documents the participants reactions during each task

Think-Aloud Responses
Documented expressions from the user during the task

Measures the users satisfaction with their overall experience with the interface


Through the combination of the heuristic evaluation and moderated user testing, MIISTAKIS was able to identify through our reports the most problematic usability issues with their site.

This opportunity has given MIISTAKIS the chance to increase the value of the Adapt-Action interface for their shareholders and potentially increased the longevity of their product. Additionally, MIISTAKIS now has a benchmark of usability to aide them in further improving the usability of their website.

Sample Results

Depicted below the SUS (System Usability Scale) data. This information helps MIISTAKIS add insight into the user’s satisfaction with the site overall.

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 10.31.01 AM

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