Usability

Our Usability experts research and evaluate internal and external MIT websites and applications using a variety of usability and user experience methods based on specific client needs and requirements. Our primary goals include:

  • Building an awareness and understanding of the concepts of usability and user experience principles across the institute.
  • Assisting product development groups in applying these principles to their work.
  • Providing usability consulting services to clients across the institute and within IS&T.

Our Usability Lab is located in Building E19opens in new window and is used for a variety of evaluations, including usability testing.

Primary services and methods

  • Affinity Diagrams
    An inexpensive, simple, and efficient way to group and sort extensive data into various sections and themes. Affinity diagrams can be used to analyze findings from other usability methods (e.g., user observations, interviews, surveys, usability tests), identify and group user functions as part of a design process, and uncover common problems from multiple customers.
  • Card Sorts
    A quick and inexpensive way to understand the user’s view of a website’s structure (navigation and labeling). Card sorting can be open or closed, done on paper or online, and repeated with different user groups to better understand common themes in the information architecture. We'll work with you to determine the best approach for your project.
  • Diary Studies
    Handwritten or electronic user entries used to track and record specific sets of activities or events consistently over a particular period of time.
  • Expert Reviews
    Usability Expert assessment of websites or applications and identification of issues based on established usability principles. Improvement recommendations will be provided post-review. An expert review can help create a ‘baseline’ measure of usability needed for the product. In the early phase of a project, these are called "design reviews."
  • Surveys
    Obtain information about user preferences, understand behavioral patterns, and collect user data (demographics). Get answers to specific questions about a particular issue with a website or product.
  • Usability Testing
    Test sessions evaluate the effectiveness of a product with users and uncovers usability issues. Sessions take place in our Usability Lab with a facilitator asking questions as participants complete a series of predetermined tasks. An observation room where members of the project team can view the session is a key component of the methodology.
  • User Interviews
    Interviews conducted to better understand user workflows, viewpoints, and opinions. Workflow and process are the primary topic of discussion, followed by open-ended questions. A Usability Expert should perform the interviews to minimize bias and leading questions.
  • User Observations
    Usability Expert assessment and interview of users as they work in their own environment with a focus on specific areas of interest. This is also called a "field study."