Long Island University Usability Lab
The Long Island University Usability Lab is a research lab supporting interdisciplinary research on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and related areas in understanding how people use information systems. Its main function is to inform Web site and software interface design based on human performance data. A variety of empirical methods are used to collect and analyze these data, including formal experiments (e.g. usability testing, “think-aloud”, focus group, observation), ethnographic analysis, and participatory design.
In addition to research support, the lab also supports education on usability engineering, and user interface design at LIU Post. The lab staff trains researchers and students to perform various usability testing techniques. The lab staff also works with public sectors and corporate partners to provide quality assurance studies for testing the usability of Web sites, software, hardware interfaces and product documentation. We are dedicated to informing design and service solutions based on usability testing and user studies.
The lab is located in Pell Hall/Life Science at LIU Post.
The lab has the capability to perform various quantitative and qualitative analyses of recorded data collected through both verbal and non-verbal video means. Currently, it includes one participant station and one observer station in separate rooms.
The Participant Station
The Participant Station in the Usability Lab can be used for single-user or small group laboratory and field recordings. Two video cameras are equipped to film the participant from different angles. All interactions with the physical machine are captured as a movie file of interface and keyboard manipulations. All information is time coded to allow for easy review. The participant’s computer is a high-end desktop that connects to the Observer Station via network and serial data connections.
The Observer Station
The Observer Station consists of a quad processing workstation with two LCD monitors that capture all video streams to storage. The system allows real-time coding by the researchers. A video feed from the Observer Station to an adjacent classroom is also included in the design. The Observer Station employs screen capture software (e.g. Morae) and data analysis tool, which is capable of performing various analyses on the captured data. Such analyses includes: behavior coding, reliability testing, summary statistics, interval analysis, duration analysis, pattern analysis, and sequential analysis.
The Usability Lab has been designed in a scalable fashion to allow for future expansion. It has the space to accommodate research into usability of multi-media, multi-user, multi-location computer systems, and multiple remote monitoring classrooms. Additional hardware to support eye-tracking and virtual reality is considered as part of future expansion.
Dr. Qiping Zhang
Director, Long Island Usability Lab
Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science
Palmer School of Library and Information Science
720 Northern Boulevard
Brookville, N.Y. 11548-1300