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    « Incorporating Gestalt Principles at Work | Main | Adapting the Iterative Design Process to Video Tutorial Development »

    September 19, 2010


    Great article Erin. I just stumbled on it from your Facebook mention.

    The statistical significance of usability studies is a hot topic, perhaps more so in engineering-driven cultures, which are inherently quantitative.

    I appreciate your article and mathematical acumen, but to defend small-group usability studies with statistical arguments misses the point and exacerbates number fetishism. The real point, in my view at least, is that small-scale qualitative usability studies demonstrate the existence of problems, whereas larger-scale quantitative studies demonstrate significance. (Or as Nielsen puts it, the former produce qualitative insights and the latter quantitative statistics. Furthermore, quantitative studies require more participants, more careful experimental design, more time, and more money.)

    So next time someone disputes the statistical significance of usability study results, ask them the following: "We're a quality-driven company. How many people need to trip over the product that we just released before we fix it?" One person is usually enough : )

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