Usability Stockholm Syndrome and User Testing in the Wild

Despite the value of usability testing in a lab, the practice has many limitations and critics, especially because using equipment in a lab is so different from the everyday experiences of users. While the immediate assumption is that using equipment in the foreign, potentially off-putting environment of the lab might bias users towards disliking a product, Jensen Harris argues that usability labs create a kind of Stockholm Syndrome, where users sympathize with their test-administering captors. That’s one reason why more companies like Firefox are conducting user testing “in the wild,” leaving the lab to seek out users in their natural habitats. Those interested in the practice can check out this free archived seminar from Dana Chisnell, a leading advocate of “in the wild” testing.


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