This week I’m attending Usability Week, a 5-day usability boot camp put on by the Nielsen Normal Group. As in Jakob Nielsen. Day 1 was a pretty low-level overview, covering the science of usability and going into some procedural detail about how to perform usability testing. Quite honestly, it was nothing I didn’t know already and most of it is pretty common sense if you just think about it a little, but it was still informative to have it all spelled out since most of us don’t really think about it on that level. I did feel that most of today’s information wasn’t really relevant to what I do.
As a designer, I’m not terribly interested in the ins and outs of conducting usability tests. Sure it’s interesting, but it doesn’t have a whole lot of practical application in my work. What I want to know is how to build usabable sites, what are the warning signs, what are the trends, what are the guidelines to follow, etc. And frankly that information is readily available online and in books without spending a couple grand on a week-long seminar.
But my company is footing the bill so I’m more than happy to listen to a bunch of expensive common sense as long as I’m not paying for it. I just hope the rest of the week has more focus on practical applications.