Morgan Kaufmann: Barnum, C: Usability Testing Essentials About the Author

About the Author

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Usability Testing Essentials

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Carol M. Barnum


Carol Barnum became a usability advocate in the early 1990s. It happened when she heard (and saw) the word "usability" in a session at a Society for Technical Communication conference. Technical communicators have always seen themselves as the user’s advocate, but here was an emerging discipline that championed the cause of the user!

It was love at first sight.

In 1993, Carol attended the second Usability Professionals' Association conference, where she was thrilled to mix and mingle with several hundred usability folks on Microsoft's corporate campus. Those two conferences sparked a desire to combine her love of teaching people how to be clear communicators with new-found passion for helping companies understand how to promote good communication between their products and their users.

In 1994, she opened her first usability lab in a windowless basement at Southern Polytechnic State University. Since then, Carol has relocated and rebuilt the lab into a great three-room complex, with plenty of light and plenty of room for a team in the control room; visitors in the executive viewing room; and, of course, participants in the participant room. Working with many different clients over the years, she has greatly enjoyed helping them unlock their users’ experience with software, hardware, documentation and training products, mobile devices, web applications, and, of course, websites.

In addition to being the director of the Usability Center, Carol directs the graduate programs in Information Design and Communication at Southern Polytechnic and teaches a variety of courses, including usability testing, information design, and international technical communication.

Carol is a sought-after speaker and trainer, receiving the top presentation prize at the first European Usability Professionals' Association conference, and top ratings at UPA, STC, and IEEE's Professional Communication conferences. She has traveled the world—England, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and India—speaking about usability testing. And closer to home, she was an invited keynote speaker at the World Conference on e-Learning in Quebec, Ontario, and at World Usability Day at Michigan State University.

She is the author of five other books and numerous articles and book chapters covering a variety of topics, including the impact of agile on usability testing, the "Magic Number 5" and whether it is enough for web testing, using Microsoft’s product reaction cards for insights into the desirability factor in user experience, e-learning and usability, and issues affecting international and intercultural communication and information design.