Announcing Open Virtual Usability Lab (VULab) alpha

Ron Owston ROwston at
Tue Jan 6 01:26:18 UTC 2009

I am pleased to announce that we now have an end-to-end working alpha
version of VULab at 

You can create your own login as a "researcher" and then create a login
for a "tester". Then login as the researcher and create a new "project." A
project consists of a pre- and a post-session survey and the url that you
want a "tester" to visit. At the end of project creation you assign the
tester to the project and activate the project. Then login again as a
researcher and view your tester's video and survey responses.

I have prepared a 3-part video explaining the steps in conducting a study
with VULab at . I urge you to view the video
before attempting to use the tool, especially video Part 1 that explains
how to create a survey which at this point is still somewhat idiosyncratic.

For those of you unfamiliar with the application, VULab is designed for
remote usability testing. VULab records, on its server, remote users’
interactions with a web site. The application also has a built in survey
tool that allows researchers to ask users questions at the beginning and
end of their usability testing session. The data collected on the VULab
server then can be analyzed by the researcher to identify usability issues
with the website. A unique feature of the application is that it does not
require remote users to install the software application on their computer
as they only need to download a small Java applet at the time of the
session. All recording is done on the server.

Known issues with VULab: 
1. the captured video plays back too quickly. I suggest using a video
player that allows you to reduce the playback speed eg. with VLC hit the
minus key several times (and turn off the sound beforehand).
2. audio and video aren't synching properly yet.
3. work still needs to be done on the layout and css of the web interface.
4. exporting of survey data not yet implemented.
5. uploading of screen snapshots is fairly slow--it takes at least as long
to upload as the length of the user's visit to the website being tested.
The user can't take the post-session survey until the upload is completed.

You can report back any issues to this list, but Colin is creating the
list vulab-users at which will take most of the traffic
related to end user experiences. This will be announced shortly.

And finally, Happy 2009, to all members of the Fluid community and thanks
for the support you've given our project over the past year!
Ron Owston

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