Morgan Ames
Distributed Mentor Project 2003


I'm very excited that the Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research selected me to participate in their prestigious Distributed Mentor summer research program! This summer I'm doing a project on the effectiveness of synchronous remote usability. I'll run some local and remote tests on the new UrbanSim interface and compare which found more problems, which participants were happier with, etc. I'll also help with some other projects a bit, and participate in the Today Messages study, sending out a summary of my activities at the end of each day. (I'll use them as a guide for what to put here, too. :~))

Motivation: Remote usability can be much cheaper and easier than local usability, especially when users are widely distributed or far from the developers, and other participants can't be subsituted for the users, as is the case in various "expert" systems such as UrbanSim. Remote usability has the added benefit of being in the participant's usual environment, which may not be the case for local usability. However, little is known about how well synchronous remote usability tests compare to local usability tests.

Goals of the study: Answer this question: can remote usability acheive the same benefits as "local" usability testing? If not, what is lost? Here are some high-level research questions, which should probably be formulated into hypotheses:

How do the following change between local and remote tests?: Specific to the new UrbanSim interface: Personal goals for the summer: AJ and I talked last week about what my goals for the summer are. Here's an attempt to get them all down. :~)