One of the most important parts to putting together Michigan Legal Help is user testing. We get so familiar with the website that we are hyper-sensitive to any changes, and because we know how we want it to work it always works, even if it doesn’t work for others. As we build triage we have to get feedback from those who will use our site in order to have the most effective and easiest to use site possible. So what does user testing mean for us at Michigan Legal Help?

User testing means staying out in the sun for eight hours on the two hottest days of the summer, recruiting sometimes unwilling testers from the library patrons, and for one of us it meant getting hit on by an overly zealous tester.

User testing means eating ice cream (only after we’re done testing!) and getting to know your co-workers in ways that perhaps you never imagined. User testing is trial and error – learning that testers hate testing online intake so much that it might not be worth that $20 Kroger gift card we drew them in with. User testing is also trial and error with our own equipment. As in figuring out the quirks of technology in the middle of user testing, like when you guide a user to a place in the website only to find that the popup you expected doesn’t actually pop up when it’s supposed to! So it goes…  

Oh, and user testing is of course about improving Michigan Legal Help! The website is meant to be accessible from the way the articles are written to how people find help for their legal issues. After all, we’re designing the website for our users so it needs to work for them, not us. Finally, just because we’re working doesn’t mean that user testing can’t be any fun. Yes, I’m talking about the picture from the Coney display…

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In a job where we are researching, writing, and working with technology all day, user testing is the one place where we can interact with those who actually use our product; the people who are the closest thing that we have to clients for the summer. That in itself makes user testing fun for me. I have a passion for helping people and I am enjoying what I’m doing this summer because of how much I know it helps people. But seeing the product in users hands and seeing people light up when they learn how good the website is (yes, that happens), is a joy in itself that can’t be matched by any other work we’re doing.    

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