Usability Lab

Students and staff working in the NACSE Usability Testing Lab


NACSE's Usability Testing Laboratory provides a testbed for systematically evaluating the usability and robustness of software tools and interfaces. By testing them on a range of different machine platforms, we can help solve usability problems before software ever reaches the user.

The testing facility was installed in 1995 and is updated frequently. It has been used by software developers from industry as well as academic organizations to evaluate whether tools and software behave consistently on different types of machines and operating systems. For example, an interface that behaves normally when invoked using one Web browser may be practically illegible when displayed by another version of the same browser.

The laboratory hosts a variety of UNIX, Linux, Windows, and MacOS machines from various manufacturers. Back versions of operating systems, web browsers,and other key software allow testing of backward and cross-platform compatibility. NACSE also maintains accounts with several ISPs in order to be able to test software under less-than-ideal network conditions.

Our new facility in the Kelley Engineering Center also includes a participatory design laboratory, where groups of users can work firsthand with software developers to improve software (running on any of the computing platforms supported by the Usability Testing Laboratory).