Usability Training – Best Practices

This is another one of those things that, while it’s ridiculously important, I find there’s a real limit to what there is to say about it at any length. Training, of course has its own endless share of problems and concerns, but we’ve covered those in our training blogs at painstaking lengths. So, when it comes to usability training, we’re going to have to really dig to get much to say.

A Brief Look at Training and Change:

Let’s nod at the problems change and training have, though again, usability training is a fairly limited niche and so these problems aren’t so terribly magnified here all things said and done.

Training is tedious, especially for already busy professionals. So many attempts to overcome the lack of agency and engagement common to traditional classroom training methods have come about, some wildly successful, others not so much.

For this aspect, pick something that makes training not onerous, and makes the act of learning feel tangibly rewarding to participants.

As for change, well, I’m not going to chew on this one as long, because it’s been talked to death. Just know that people tend to be nervous, subconsciously resistive to new ideas being pushed upon them. Just use the Kotter model for this like everyone else and don’t stress it.

Usability Specific:

Usability is about a technology being quick to learn (due to relatable representation), fast to use after learning, and ultimately not tedious or annoying for the effort.

It entails visuals, GUI layout, flow navigation, layout and interpretation, and of course the natural way it can teach and guide users just by the implications of these many aspects.

As a result, these are the focuses you naturally have when training people in the field of usability. You need them to have a solid understanding of inference from presentation, software design, GUI design and logic, and the nature of the working environment where software is required to be used constantly and repeatedly.

You also need to see that they have a solid understanding of sociology and psychology, because very much of usability is about the user being engaged and pleased with their interaction with the software, which is the opposite of annoyed and exhausted by it.

While software is not always about entertainment, being pleasant to use, and fast and non-stressful is immensely important. In order for people to be proficient at designing the software to ensure this, then they themselves must understand it.

Extra Exercises:

Having users go through mundane, and repetitive tasks with software exemplifying solid usability, and those exemplifying awful mistakes is very helpful. See, they cement to the trainees how it feels to be a pleased user working through solid design, and a disgruntled and dismayed user working through horrible and tedious designs.

Exercising them through usability testing processes, whichever models you commonly use, is also important, as it gives them a sense of the science and the priorities and standards things are being held to inside and outside the company.

Beyond this, usability training is mostly about the regular field of training and change, and we have a lot of material to help with that in our archives!


Jessica Miller
Jessica is the Lead Author & Editor of UsabilityLab Blog. Jessica writes for the UsabilityLab blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to usability.
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