new software product available for downloading from a Web site. In this example, the user typically does not communicate with the developer, except for getting technical support. Kaasgaardet al. ( 1999) present a method of remote testing wherein user intentions are collected in 'use case signatures'. User intention is obtained by prompting the users to fill in their intention in case of an operational difficulty. This method applies to situations where the main marketing concern is the product leamability. However, because it ignores the user operation, it is not applicable for testing performance critical and safety critical systems.
ErgoLight tools for remote testing are designed to capture all the data required to understand user errors remotely. The user actions and the operating context are recorded continuously. The user intention is elicited only when the user experiences an operational difficulty. User errors are identified by matching the actions to the intention and to the operating context, as in usability labs.
Understanding user errors is crucial for increasing the usability of performance critical and safety critical systems. Traditional usability testing methods-video recording, thinking aloud and observations - provide data about the user intention. To understand the user errors, one should also capture the sequence of user actions and the operating context.
By integration with observation loggers such as The Observer or Usabilityware, automatic operation logging enables identification of user errors that are practically impossible to identify using traditional testing tools alone.
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