From the article:
I spent two years in Germany, working for an international full-service Internet consultancy. Sometimes we had to check a feature of an application or Web site we were developing. Rather than stop development for a months-long series of usability tests involving video taping, one-way mirrors, and agency-recruited subjects, we relied on the Putzfrau approach. Because Putzfrau means “ cleaning woman,” the idea is to test with someone nearby who’s not part of your specific development project.
We would get someone from another team or department and ask them to perform specific tasks, either on a digital or paper prototype. These quick results helped center the development on user-oriented approaches, rather than technologically oriented ones.
Steve Krug has a wonderful chapter on usability testing in his critically important book, Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability. While he takes the informality of usability testing to its extreme, he does highlight how cost-effective informal testing can be.
Rather than spending $10,000 to $50,000 on a series of usability tests, you can perform tests for a few hundred dollars. This approach eliminates the typical response to suggestions of usability testing, “We don’t have the budget for testing.”
We’ve all heard that before. I maintain, Why do we always have time and budget to do things over (“We’ll fix it in the next version”), but we never have time to do things right?