Rocket Surgery really is easy

June 24, 2010

I just finished reading Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug (perhaps you know him from his other book Don’t Make Me Think).  Here’s what I thought.

What’s the point? Learn how to do usability testing yourself to gain most of the benefits of hiring someone to do it, and losing most of the negatives (e.g. Big Honkin’ Report, $$$).  The book’s other motive is to make sure you start doing some kind of usability testing.  ALL of our sites/applications have usability problems.  We could eliminate the big ones just by spending a little time on it.

How was it? A pretty quick read.  I’m a slow reader, and I made it through it in a couple hours a night for 3 nights.  This thing is a prescriptive manual for conducting usability tests on a product you have (or on your competitors products, if you’d like to do that).  It covers recruiting participants all the way to fixing the problems they discover.  Usability testing doesn’t need to be a big production, hard to do, or scary.  He lays it out step by step and give you (as the guy running the tests) guidance each step along the way, complete with checklists and scripts (I know, that sounds hokey, but I think it’ll actually work).

Who should read it? If you’re reading this, you probably ought to read the book.  Realistically, anyone remotely interested in having a usable application and is actually partly responsible for said application (PM, Tech Lead, Dev, Designer, Marketing, Tech Writing, Tester, etc.).  Even if you aren’t going to be the one running/moderating the tests, it’s good to know what the participant’s are going through, what the moderator is doing behind the scenes, and what your role is as an observer.