Smoke and mirrors: setting the stage for a successful usability test
Setting the stage, or testing atmosphere, is an important step in preparing for a usability test. This article addresses how to create a good testing atmosphere. We liken this process to that of preparing the stage for a theatre or movie production. In a usability test production, usability professionals serve as directors and set designers, camouflaging the stage (lab equipment), creating a set (an appropriate workspace), recruiting performers (participants represenative of end-users), and execuitng the script (running the test). Usability professionals must attend to each of these issues because they can impact participants' performance, the flow of events, and, ultimately, data quality.