Need some extra cash? Google wants to give you $75 if you are selected to participate in its usability study. After reading the entire blurb on Google’s site, the one thing that I noticed is that it doesn’t say much about the study except that it involves Blogger. But isn’t that just typical of Google? LOL
Here is what Google says on its site:
Tell us what you think about Blogger by signing up for a usability study! The study is an opportunity to provide feedback on something that’s currently in development. This study will help the Blogger team better understand your needs in order to incorporate them into future product enhancements.
We’re currently scheduling participants for a study that takes place June 17-23, 2010. Sessions will be remote – basically we’ll call you on the phone and set up a screen sharing session with you on your own computer. You’ll need a high-speed Internet connection and a computer running Windows 7/Vista/XP/2000. If you’re interested in participating, please complete the questionnaire linked below. We’ll then be in touch directly to discuss details and set your appointment time.
Details of the study:
The duration of the study session is 60 minutes
You’ll receive $75 in American Express gift checks as a token of our appreciation.
To participate you will need to:
-Be at least 18 years old
-Accept the terms of our Usability Non-Disclosure Agreement
-Allow us to video or audio record the session
-Have a PC computer running Windows 7/Vista/XP/2000
-Have a broadband Internet connection (DSL, Cable, T1 all fine).
-Have a phone you can use comfortably while working on your computer for the duration of the study session. A speaker phone or hands-free headset is recommended.
**Please note that you won’t be compensated for responding to this questionnaire; you’ll receive a gratuity only if you actually attend a study session with Google.**
Thank you for your time.
So there you have it. If you decide to sign up I hope that you are selected.
Google sign up site is here.
We’ve talked before about the importance of figuring out what visitors think of your Web site, but are you showing by your actions that you really believe that? You can use a variety of tracking and analytics tools to see what your visitors are doing on your site, and that information is helpful, but it’s even better when the visitors who use your site talk you through their experiences with it. Many companies skip this step when they develop a Web site, but that can be a costly mistake. Thankfully, UserTesting.com provides you with usability feedback from real people quickly and for a very reasonable amount of money.
Once you specify the demographics that you want to target and fill in the information about the required tasks, UserTesting.com will match your needs with the users that they have in their system. Before you know it, depending on what you’ve paid for, one or more users will use your site and provide you with a video that shows their activity and includes their narration that details what their immediate thoughts were during the process. In addition to that visual and audible feedback, you’ll also receive written comments. The impressive thing is that you can get results in as little as an hour, so you won’t have to wait around for a long time. You may think you know what your visitors are thinking, but you have no idea.
I do not say this often, but in this instance the move to prove a point by Microsoft was nothing short of brilliant. By offering users a chance to try the new “Mojave” operating system in a controlled setting, MS was sure to prove a point that many of their employees have been championing all along – Vista was not that bad. This experiment has apparently, shown that many people took to the new OS almost instantly.
Truth be told, today’s Vista is just an OS. I own a copy of Ultimate and found it to be no more compelling than my Ubuntu releases or my wife’s Mac. Again, it’s and OS – so what? And it is with this that I believe that a point has made on behalf of Microsoft, that most people who have never even tried the release, now realize that the issues of the past have largely been dealt with. It may still not be the fastest thing to run in the world, but it is not going to be as bad as many people have reported it to be in the past. Vista does what it is designed to do well enough. It provides the security enhancements over XP as promised.
So while I have heard some people charge that Microsoft has done little more than make themselves feel better, I would point out that they may have actually proven that this latest release might prove to be just fine by the casual user. What say you? XP forever? Waiting for Windows 7? Loving Vista? Using Ubuntu (like me)? Apple of forget it? Hit the comments, share your experiences.
Right up front, there are a couple of things to consider about this Bill Gates rant.
- The email written by Bill Gates was done in 2003.
- He is speaking about frustration with a select problem, so do not take this as him giving up on Windows altogether.
What got me thinking were these words being muttered from the man himself.
I am quite disappointed at how Windows Usability has been going backwards and the program management groups don’t drive usability issues.
Wow, this speaks volumes as to the frustration Bill must have been dealing with when trying to work with Windows Movie Maker, an application that is supposed to be user friendly. Still, there is an alarming item that we all ought to be looking into is the concern over general Windows usability. This alone is something that to this day, I believe is going largely unaddressed with Windows. Not saying OS X or Linux is any better in this dept, but perhaps an indicator that the almighty dollar has lost this match and even Bill Gates himself is finding himself frustrated with shortcuts taken to rush deadlines.
This is an area that I am faced with as a consultant, writer and even as a user. Trying to clearly define the semantic web is about as simple as herding cats in my honest opinion. Sure, you can toss out a definition, but will it mean anything to the people you are explaining it to? Not too likely.
In my own view, I found this to be the simplest example of implementation on the matter coming from Intranet Journal, whom I happen to write for occasionally (disclaimer), but overall, felt the article hit home. In the end, I believe finding a balance between machine-processable info and the general user experience has begun to create something of a paradox of sorts. So much so as a matter of fact, that I see the user experience being swallowed up in we are not careful.
Putting value on anything other than the user experience is in my opinion, foolish at best and down right dangerous at worst. Sure, you can blend together all sorts of creative, crazy ideas whereas the Semantic web then becomes less obtrusive and in your face. But in the end, I just do not think it has much staying power short of those who envision projects where the machine readable overshadows what we the users are actually wanting. As you found in the previous piece above, the desire is there, but I am not convinced the follow through is just yet. We are still getting our land legs in my opinion.