My coworker went to SXSW Interactive this year, and I merely went to lunch with people near SXSWi and followed the #sxswi Twitter stream, and now I am browsing through the sketchnotes. I went to BarCamp Austin on Saturday and presented about FLOSS Manuals and the Book Sprint methodology we’ve been experimenting with. It went great, and afterward I even got a nice compliment “You are a force of nature, aren’t you?” That made me grin big!
But back to Twitter for usability testing. How can that be done? The CMS Showdown featured at SXSW Interactive actually came up with a way to do it, and then there’s a video on Vimeo showing one of the participants watching and commenting as the Twitter stream goes by on her screen.
Basically, set up a time for a certain number of website users to try certain tasks on your website or application. While they use the application, have them log on to Twitter and make comments, including a pre-set hashtag in their Tweets. By the end of the testing period, you’ll have a record of micro-comments (140 characters or less) collected with the search.twitter.com tool.
Somehow this use of Twitter to “judge” your product or documentation makes a lot of sense to me. You pick a hashtag and a span of time, and ask people on Twitter to read the doc or try the product at the same time, putting their thoughts up as 140-character or less Twitter posts.
Now, be sure to save off the stream of comments because, as Jenny Levine noted, the stream of the moment is momentary.
A week or so ago, people in the technical education sector did something similar to what I’m suggesting – they all discussed a topic at the same by putting the hashtag #educhat into their Tweets. We’ve been talking about a similar organized chat time for FLOSS Manuals.
I’ve blogged about uses for Twitter before – usability testing is just one more use to add to the list.