University of Maryland

TUTORIAL: Introduction to Usability Testing 2018

 TUTORIAL: Introduction to Usability Testing

Thursday, May 24, 2018


A tutorial presented during the Human-Computer Interaction Lab 35th Annual Symposium
University of Maryland


This is an introductory tutorial on the topic of usability testing. The tutorial we will cover both management issues and practical issues of usability testing and discuss what usability testing is (and isn’t).

In the module on management issues, we will focus on usability as it related to the organization. We will discuss what makes a product usable, the origins of usability testing, and the relationship of usability testing to the broader areas of Human Factors Engineering and other disciplines (e.g., marketing, design, development, and other types of testing). We will discuss product development models that incorporate usability and discuss such topics as the timing of usability testing in the design and development cycle, how to plan for them, and what ROI there is for usability testing.

In the practical module, we will focus the mechanics doing usability testing. We will discuss both qualitative and quantitative testing (sometimes called formative and summative) as well as different protocols that can be used for usability tests. We will discuss how to develop a test including the test tasks, test length, participant selection and recruiting, data collection, and analysis. We will discuss ethical issues associated with conducting tests with human subjects. We will discuss what empirical data can be derived from usability testing and what cannot. Finally, we will practice the skills and principles involved in facilitating a user-based test.


This tutorial is intended for usability practitioners looking to expand their skills, other practitioners (designers, developers, etc.) who may have usability testing interests or responsibilities, and management that may be considering incorporating usability into their organization.


  • Bill Killam (, Adjunct Professor, Board Certified Human Factors Engineer

Agenda (Subject to Change)

The precise timing is not set yet but it will likely follow this format:

  • Topic 1: Introduction to Usability Testing
  • Topic 2: Usability versus the User Experience
  • Topic 3: Into to Non-User Based Testing Methods
  • Topic 4: Non-User Based Testing1: Style Guide and Compliance Reviews
  • Topic 5: Non-User Based Testing2: Expert Reviews/Heuristic Evaluations
  • Topic 6: Intro to User-based Testing
  • Topic 7: Qualitative Method 1: The Think Aloud Protocol
  • Topic 8: Qualitative Method 2: The Interrupted Task Based Protocol
  • Topic 9: Other Formats: The Interrupted Task Based Protocol
  • Topic 10: Practical Testing Procedures
  • Topic 11: Quantitative Testing
  • Topic 12: Usability, Organizations, and Processes

There will be a coffee break, a lunch break, and even a cookie break!