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One of the most important things we do when developing new features, or revisiting current ones, is to think about you, our User. We know we aren’t building software for the sake of it, but rather to solve real problems you face every day. It is critical that we not only provide the tools to solve your problems, but also make sure you understand and use the tools effectively.

One of the best ways we can do this is by employing a technique called Usability Testing. I am extremely proud to say we have conducted over 25 usability sessions with PowerDMS Users in the first half of this year.

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So what is a Usability Test anyway? The first important thing to note is: the test focuses on the PowerDMS interface, not the User. This is one test you cannot fail. As a participant, we will present you with a screen, which could be several things, including a sketch of an idea; a semi-functioning prototype; a project currently under development; or perhaps a page as it exists in the application today. We will then ask you a couple of questions followed by a set of tasks.

As participants go through tasks, we ask them to think out loud, articulating the thoughts and questions that pass through their minds. By listening to and observing the behavior of the participant we are able to see which parts of the interface make sense, and which parts might be confusing.

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The magic comes as we repeat the process. By testing with multiple Users, we are able to reduce biases and find common struggles. Over time we make changes to the design, and continue to test to either validate or disprove our approaches. Sometimes we will discover a feature we were perusing might not be one our Users actually need and we will never waste development resources on it. Conversely, when a feature does move into development, we already have confidence it will be a positive change for you and other PowerDMS Users.

If you are interested, we would love to have you join us for a Usability Test. Right now we have regularly scheduled time slots every Monday at 2:30 and 3:30 pm EST. You can add yourself to the schedule here.