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BizTalk.org: a Web Site Usability Audit

"Stupendous. Thank you. Job well done."

Screenshot: BizTalk.org Web site.Microsoft created BizTalk.org in 1999 to encourage the use and exchange of XML based documents. Microsoft contracted with us to review the usability of BizTalk.org and to prepare a usability audit report.

We conducted the usability audit on a test version of the Web site, which was then in the final stages of development. Then we rechecked the audit against the live version of the BizTalk Web site.

We conducted two complementary types of analysis: a  customer-focused usability analysis and a detailed usability heuristics analysis.

Customer-Focused Usability Analysis

For the customer-focused usability analysis, the client provided us with a list of six types of customers for the BizTalk Web site. From this list, we developed six specific personas to represent the target customers. For each persona, we developed a set of business goals and a set of personal goals that a successful Web site would help that persona to achieve. We found that if the Web site worked well for two particular personas, it would also work well for the others.

Using the two primary personas, we developed and tested several Web site usage scenarios to determine the usability of the BizTalk Web site for those personas. We based our recommendations on the results of those tests, identifying both the features that worked well and should be retained and the features that could be improved. We gave specific recommendations for improvement—supported by the actual results of our scenario tests.

The following snippets from our report show usage scenarios and our recommendations based on testing the scenarios.

Report Snippet: Usage Scenarios   Report snippet: Usage scenario test results.

Detailed Usability Heuristics Analysis

We tested BizTalk.org against more than 100 predefined usability heuristics that describe best practices for creating a usable Web site. Our report to Microsoft gave a detailed definition of each heuristic and listed the steps to take, if any, to satisfy the requirements of the heuristic. Following is an example of the findings:

Report snippet: Usability heuristic and findings.

Note: Since 1999, XML has become immensely popular. The format is now a standard, and other repositories such as XML.org have eliminated the need for the BizTalk Web site. Having served its purpose, Microsoft closed the site in July, 2002.

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