Round 1 Testing for New Holly Lisle Writing School Website: 39 Volunteers Requested Now


WebinarJam has crashed every time but one on this, with people unable to reach rooms I’m in. I’ve checked my links, I’ve checked their links, and at this point, the only thing I can do to stop wasting people’s time is give up.

I’m going to see if there’s some way to do this same process with Skype. I’ll set the testing back up again if there is.


Today (Wednesday, September 9th) and tomorrow (Thursday, September 10th), I’m going to be doing what’s called “Paper Testing” to find usability problems with the interface the new writing school site (, or for short).

I need a maximum of 39 volunteers (already have one) for one-on-one testing with me in a video chat room.

Paper Testing is fun, and it will take each volunteer about fifteen minutes WORST case.

Here’s how it works. I have five scripts prepared. They start with things like, “You’re a first-time visitor to the site. Find something that interests you, and tell me why.”

Or, “You’re already a member. Log in.”

Here are the instructions for doing a usability test:

Paper Test #1 for

How To Do Your Usability Test

At the scheduled time, log into the web chat link I’ll send you.

Make sure I’m already in chat with you. (Have your microphone on, and say “Hi.” 😀 You’ll be coming in as a presenter, and I might hear you before I see you.)

Find the screenshare button on the left, where I’ve highlighted it. Image below.

Screenshare button on left sidebar

Screenshare button on left sidebar

To help me test, all you have to do is talk while you work your way through the instructions I give you by clicking the places on the drawings where you think the necessary actions SHOULD take place, describing what you’re trying and what you think your action will accomplish.

Google ChromeScreenSnapz005

When you complete one instruction, I’ll give you the next task. There are a MAXIMUM of six tasks in each test, and the whole test will take no more than about fifteen minutes if I’ve done a terrible job of laying out the site.

You do not need to hurry. If you make mistakes, me seeing them happen will help me figure out where I’ve made mistakes in the design. Your mistakes will make the final site better.

Take your time, think out loud, and let me know every time something doesn’t make sense to you or you cannot figure out or find a way to accomplish the instruction on your script.


Here’s what you’ll need to volunteer:

  • A microphone or mic headset that works with your computer, or a built-in mic that you know has good volume.
  • The Chrome web browser and a Gmail email address.Reply to this post with your Gmail address because that’s the only way I can make you a presenter in the web app, and you must be a presenter to share your screen. You’ll need Chrome because the controls I show above won’t work if you’re not using Chrome.I’ll also use this address to schedule our session with you.
  • A second browser that ISN’T Chrome. You’ll be using that browser to share your screen. The Paper Test is very low tech, but does require that your browser process images. This WILL NOT WORK with a cell phone because of the primitive nature of the test.When you have your second browser opened, you’ll click the screenshare button, highlight that browser,
    select your other browser

    Select your OTHER browser…

    and click the share button.

  • About fifteen minutes that you can block out of an hour or so of availability. If you post your response here and let me know today or tomorrow, and the time you could be available (any one-hour block from which I can pull 15 minutes, or something cool like “anytime between 10 AM and 3PM” will work, I’ll set up a schedule with testing times and mail each volunteer with your fifteen-minute block, along with the login details. (The fifteen-minute block starting at noon tomorrow is already taken, but as I write this, everything else is wide open.
  • I will be saving the screen test as a video, and Dan, the moderator, and I will be going over all of them looking for places where my initial design causes problems, and where we can make things better and easier to use, so if you volunteer, you automatically agree that I can save and use the video of your test.

Let me know you can help by posting your availability times below. NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY—if you can use your web browser, you can do this.

I’ll give you the URL for the papertest site once you arrive and have your screenshare browser set up.

I’ll be starting testing at 10 AM this morning if I have volunteers by then, and doing as many tests as I can before 3 PM. I’ll be doing the same thing on Thursday.

Thank you in advance for volunteering. I want to make sure that when we build the front end for the new site (which will NOT be what we go live with, but which will follow soon after) you’ll have a site that is easy for you to use.

By the way…

This is a sneak peek of one of the test pages:

Paper-test example page

Paper-test example page

Holly Lisle


WebinarJam has crashed every time but one on this, with people unable to reach rooms I’m in. I’ve checked my links, I’ve checked their links, and at this point, the only thing I can do to stop wasting people’s time is give up.

I’m going to see if there’s some way to do this same process with Skype. I’ll set the testing back up again if there is.


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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and indie-publish my new ones.

52 comments… add one
  • meham Sep 17, 2015 @ 10:27

    which explains all the weird videos….:-)

  • Claudette Sep 12, 2015 @ 12:40

    What a pain for you. I can understand the frustration and sympathize, though not on the same scale. 🙂

    Hope you can get it to work soon.

    I’d like to be able to use another browser as backup, but my system has issues with everything but Chrome at the moment. So I’m sort of committed.

    Keeping fingers crossed for you.

  • Karen Sep 9, 2015 @ 23:03

    I’d love to help you, Holly, but did not see your message until now (6:54am UK time on 10th Sept). Unfortunately I will be at work all day and visiting family afterwards in nearby city. I hope you are able to resolve this easily. All good wishes.

  • Rika Sep 9, 2015 @ 9:36

    Sorry to read now that the tech gremlins have been making things difficult.
    I have just used this request as the final motivation to backup my computer, in order to then be able to update a veryvery old version of FireFox and thus have two brosers available for helping you in your testing process. The backup has taken awhile, and I thank you for giving me the impetus, as it is also a big stepping stone for a variety of other things I need to do and have been putting off. 🙂
    (Might just update Skype while I’m at it… 😉

    Anyway, I’d be available for a few more hours today, or tomorrow, and hope to be available if it ends up being another time. I’d love to help you! 🙂

    • Marie-Claire Sep 10, 2015 @ 2:58

      Any change in these circumstances today 10/09/15 Holly?
      It is 10.55 am in England right now and I am wondering if you need any of us today/ tomorrow as am trying to prioritise you if you need help to get back up and running ASAP. MC

  • Patti Sep 9, 2015 @ 9:17

    I’m so sorry, Holly. I didn’t catch time zone difference. I wasn’t thinking far enough that early.
    That’s probably why my test didn’t work. :-/
    I’m available from 1:00 ET on.
    Again, I’m so sorry.

  • Tom Vetter Sep 9, 2015 @ 8:55

    Hi, Holly! If you still need volunteers, I’m available and game. An afternoon timeslot works great for me pick something that works for you and I’ll be there.


  • James Sep 9, 2015 @ 8:53

    I could help you out between 1:00 and 2:00 PM EST today if you still need someone.

  • Marie-Claire Sep 9, 2015 @ 8:49

    I am around but builders are on site so I may get interrupted – not sure about the time diff – but you are welcome to try me today or tomorrow if you give me a time to suit you I can work it out from there I expect Good Luck MC

    • Marie-Claire Sep 9, 2015 @ 8:52

      ie it is 4.51 pm here in England right now.

  • Jess Wagstrom Sep 9, 2015 @ 8:36

    Tomorrow during the 1 or 2 PM block? I could help you then if you still need it!

  • Marilyn Sep 9, 2015 @ 8:17

    I am available from 8:00 AM until noon CST tomorrow 9/10/15.

  • Melissa Corbett Sep 9, 2015 @ 8:15

    Hi Holly, I’d love to help you test I’m pretty much available all day today and tomorrow 🙂

  • Angela Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:56

    Holly, I can be available between 11:00am EST to 3:00pm today and from about 8:00am to 3:00pm tomorrow. I don’t have a webcam either but screen sharing should work fine, as far as I know.

    • Holly Sep 9, 2015 @ 8:16

      Thank you, Angela. I’m going to take a half-hour break at noon, so I’ll schedule you as my first test coming back, if that’s okay.

      12:30 PM to 1 PM ET.

      I’ll set up the room and send out your links.

      THANK YOU!

      • Angela Sep 9, 2015 @ 9:10

        Great! That works fine, Holly. I’m happy to be finally able to help a bit. Thank YOU.

      • Angela Sep 9, 2015 @ 12:23

        Sorry about the tech glitches, Holly. You’ll find a great solution but remember to stick to your six hours and don’t stress. ‘Everyting will be allll right’.. as per Bob Marley. 😉

  • Lauren Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:55

    Hi Holly!

    Turns out from 3:00 – 5:00 ET I have some time to help.

  • Jean Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:50

    I’m available today or tomorrow. Anytime, just let me know.


    • Holly Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:55

      11:30 to Noon Today?

      If that works, I’ll add you and send your links.

      • Jean Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:57

        Let’s do it!

        • Holly Sep 9, 2015 @ 8:35

          Jean, if you’re around, could you come in on the link I just sent you and see if I’m here. I’ve had one person successfully make it into the room, and I’m trying to figure out the problem.

          • Jean Sep 9, 2015 @ 8:48

            Unfortunately, I’m sitting there, and it’s telling me you haven’t logged in yet, which I’m certain is not true.

  • Anthony Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:50

    Hi Holly, happy to help you. I can do it pretty much any time.

    • Holly Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:54

      11:15 to 11:30 AM ET work for you? If so, I’ll add you in and send your links.

      THANK YOU!

      • Anthony Sep 9, 2015 @ 8:12

        Hi Holly, yes, that works for me.

        • Holly Sep 9, 2015 @ 8:30

          Starting the test with you now. Come on in.

        • Anthony Sep 9, 2015 @ 8:43

          I have the links, etc, but webinar jam is ‘redirecting’, and going nowhere, although I appear to have been added.

          • Anthony Sep 9, 2015 @ 8:54

            The screen says ‘webinar Creator has not logged in’ yet, same message as JEan is seeing. It’s been showing that for 30 mins.

  • Patti Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:45

    So we need a webcam too?

    • Holly Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:52

      No. You don’t need a webcam. The software will allow you to show me your screen without you having any webcam software or hardware.

      • Patti Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:55

        Good. Perfect. Thank you. 😀

  • BJ Steeves Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:11


    What software are you using for the video sharing? The only issue I have running linux, video chat software such as gotomeeting and such, don’t work on linux. They are all audio only.


    • Holly Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:33

      I’m using Google Hangouts with a WebinarJam overlay.

      • BJ Steeves Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:47

        OK…Looking at their web site, it appears that they do support linux. What do you have open for this afternoon? Any time after 2pm CT is good for me, or evening. (Oklahoma is in Central time just in case.)

        It either works or not, we will find out. You probably have others who use linux and this will be a good test to find out.


        • Holly Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:48

          I have the last slot of the day. 3PM ET.

          That work?

          • BJ Steeves Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:49

            Which is 2pm here…works for me.

            • BJ Steeves Sep 9, 2015 @ 13:06

              Sorry that the technical issues invaded your space… By coincidence, I just installed skype on my linux desktop…I seems to work properly. You can let me know when you are ready to test again. I will be here.

  • Anna Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:11

    I’m free at 8 to 8:30 pacific, which is 11 to 11:30 eastern, today. Free at 7 to 8 pacific, 10 to 11 eastern thursday

  • Misty Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:06

    I can help out, anytime today. 🙂 You caught me on a good day. I finished my day job early!

    • Holly Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:47

      Thank you. That’s fantastic. I have you set for 11:15 ET, and will send your link in just a minute

    • Holly Sep 9, 2015 @ 8:09

      I’m in the room now.

      • Misty Sep 9, 2015 @ 8:09

        I’m getting a message saying that “The Webinar Creator has not logged in yet…”

        • Holly Sep 9, 2015 @ 8:24

          Try again? I’ve changed settings.

          • Holly Sep 9, 2015 @ 8:29

            Hi again. I’m going to call this for tech failure on my end. I don’t know why this one isn’t working, but I’ve broken something. Thank you for being willing to test with me, and I’m sorry this didn’t work.

  • Patti Sep 9, 2015 @ 6:57

    Good morning, Holly and team.
    I can do this test pretty much anytime during your hours today or tomorrow.

    This will be an interesting part of the process. A new experience. Thank you.

    • Patti Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:36

      Are you needing video? I don’t have a webcam and I didn’t see it mentioned. I only have camera on my phone.

      Thanks, Holly.

      • Holly Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:46

        I don’t need webcam if you can use the screenshare. Click in and see if it’ll work for you. I’m ready in the room.

    • Holly Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:45

      Hi, Patti. Check your email. You should have your link now.

      Thank you! 😀

  • Rohini Last Sep 9, 2015 @ 6:43

    I should mention I am completely flexible all day today 9/9 and tomorrow 9/10, to help test HLOWS.

    • Holly Sep 9, 2015 @ 6:48

      Got it. Sending you your email now. You’re the first tester, starting at 10 AM ET. THANK YOU!

  • Rohini Last Sep 9, 2015 @ 6:40

    I’d love to help you test 🙂

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