Usability II begins with the battle of Ethnio vs. The Turk.

This week marks the beginning of a brand new class (Usability II), and all the adventures that go along with that.  The class started off as normal with a intro lecture, assigned readings, and websites to peruse over at our leisure.  One of which was “Ethnio’s list of remote tools.” which I found has pretty good (if sometimes expensive) tools for conducting remote usability studies.  It’s always nice to add a few new tools to my UXD toolbox.

Then came this weeks assignment decide which of two products was best for recruiting usability test participants.  Ethnio vs. Amazons Mechanical Turk.  This wasn’t a challenge after a mere glancing over of each products web sites.  Ethnio was the clear choice, but I decided to dig a bit deeper and see if maybe I’d missed some important tidbit in the Turks favor.  The answer was not that I could find.  I found that the Mechanical Turk was indeed designed for remote work & testing however it’s so broad in scope, and variable in purpose that you kind of loose track of the specific trees in this massive forest.  Not to mention that I had to dig down through six pages of explanatory text before I found a sole small paragraph hidden there stating that you can indeed recruit test participants via the Turk. This isn’t a good sign when the instructions are so unusable and you are hoping to use the product to conduct a usability test.  Ethnio held it’s win hands down.  Not only is the products singular purpose to recruit, screen, and schedule test participants, but it even offered me a test participant survey to take upon entering the site.

The only potential down side a fellow classmate of mine discovered is that Ethnio’s participant survey form may appear unprofessional to some as it is a fill in the blank style form vs. a classic survey question form.  Guess that will be round two of this challenge for me to figure out.

If anyone reading this has actually used either the Mechanical Turk or Ethnio I’d be interested in hearing (or reading) about your experiences.  🙂

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