24 April 2009

What would automated user experience testing deliver?

Loop11 is an automated user experience testing service, currently in beta release. You send your site and the tasks you want users to perform; they set up an automated test protocol which they deliver to participants and then analyse and report on participants' behaviour.

I tried their demo and could see potentially different routes to the completing the tasks that were set. So I wondered how you would interpret and use such a finding in a test report. There could be some useful behavioural segmentation in finding different routes, but you'd have no insight into it without knowing more about your users and what their motivations and experiences were. Indeed there could be behaviours specifically connected to getting through a test session that were spurious for real-life use. But you'd never know.

Of even more concern the service doesn't seem to give control over who is taking part in the the test. Crowd-sourced test participants who have no interest in the content of your web site seem to me to be the wrong place to start for the best insights into real user behaviour.

So, a clever idea but with limitations. Do I protest too much?

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