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Adapting Usability Test Methods to Improve a Data Extraction Tool (FERRETT)

John J. Bosley and Cavan C. Capps


This paper describes how web developers and a usability specialist collected usability data about FERRETT, a web-based statistical data extraction tool within extremely stringent constraints. The small development team lacked the time and other resources to implement fully the design changes suggested by extensive usability testing of the first FERRETT version and still perform additional evaluation to validate redesign. Instead they tested graphically redesigned screens representing design changes, using rudimentary hyperlink-based navigation functionality. They collected data from structured screen-centered dialogs with users representing major data user classes. Dialog content analysis revealed usability problems on which fine-tuning screen designs and fleshing out a complete navigation system for the redesigned site were based.