Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Usability testing with Outreachy

I've volunteered with Allan and Jakub to mentor more GNOME usability testing in the next cycle of Outreachy, from December 4, 2018 to March 4, 2019. Outreachy expressly invites applicants from around the world who are women (both cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people.

Interns will work with the GNOME team and mentor(s) to do usability testing on GNOME. The goal is to perform several cycles of usability testing on prototypes of new designs, and provide usability testing results and feedback to the GNOME team so a new iterative design can be updated based on those results. We would like to use a "test what you've got" approach where we set up a testing schedule, and the intern tests whatever prototype or model is ready at that time. So if "test day" is Thursday, we could nail down what to test by Monday, and have the intern post results on Friday or the weekend.

What you need to know

You don't need to know usability testing to intern with us! We'll start the internship with a few weeks of "usability 101" with the mentor to learn about usability testing and usability processes, including how to lead a usability test. After the first few weeks, interns should expect to learn as they go, or "learn by doing."

This "learn by doing" approach will help you gain practical experience about usability testing. By the end of the internship, you will understand usability testing, and why it is important in open source software (this applies to any open source software project).

As an intern, you can have a direct impact on the GNOME desktop! Your results will help us improve the next versions of GNOME, and make GNOME easier for everyone to use.

I'll also note that in previous cycles of Outreachy, many of the interns have done such great work that I co-authored articles with them. If your tests are successful and generate useful results, we may co-author an article with you, and submit it to a technology/open source magazine or news website, or (non-academic) journal. That's a big bonus to your resume!

How to start

If you're interested in joining us for GNOME usability testing, you first need to apply for an internship at Outreachy. You'll also need to make a first contribution.

You can do your first contribution by performing a usability test of your own, using GNOME, since that's the topic of the usability testing internship. You can pick one or a few programs from GNOME, and do a total of ten scenario tasks.

When you've finished your usability test, generate a heat map of your results, then write a brief summary about the experience. This is not a formal paper, it's something you would write on a blog or send in an email. Please use an informal voice here; imagine you are explaining your test to a friend. Email your summary to me (jhall@gnome.org) in OTF or PDF format, and I'll review the results with you. Or if you prefer, you can publish your results on your blog and email the URL to me.

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