Hallway usability testing

Many people complain that usability testing is expensive and time-consuming.

However, there is a very quick and very cheap approach to usability testing that any developer can adopt.

It's called 'hallway usability testing' because you grab someone from the corridor and ask them to test your software feature that you've just developed.

Obviously, as you have literally grabbed a passing colleague, you probably don't want to take up a huge amount of their time, so you only want to ask them one or two quick questions, such as "what do you think this icon means?" or, "can you find x piece of information?"

The disadvantage of this approach is that the people you grab may well be other developers, and they may be so used to using lots of different kinds of software that they are not very representative of a 'naive user'.

So hallway usability testing should really only be a precursor to real usability testing with a proper representative sample of users.

Joel Spolsky, CEO of Stack Exchange, describes it like this:
“A hallway usability test is where you grab the next person that passes by in the hallway and force them to try to use the code you just wrote. If you do this to five people, you will learn 95 percent of what there is to learn about usability problems in your code.”

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