General Services Administration’s (GSA) “First Friday Product Testing” is a monthly session of simple testing designed to helping government website teams find and fix problems. The First Friday program trains federal staff to organize and conduct tests of their agency’s websites to increase the website’s effectiveness.
The training is done in a 4-hour period on the first Friday of every month in which GSA web teams test and evaluate the top tasks of a specific website or application. The site might be a GSA website or one from another agency. Before the test, First Friday officials ask website stakeholders to sign a letter of intent confirming they understand that they are expected to improve their website promptly. As part of the test, First Friday recruits three customer participants to perform tasks on the website, and the stakeholders observe the participants working.
Following the test, the observers debrief over lunch and collaborate to identify site problems and solutions. The stakeholders leave the debriefing with a list of the top ten usability problems and ideas for how to fix them within the next month. They also receive a DVD recording of the tests.
First Friday uses its website to inform government officials of the service, as well as coordinate testing. For seeking to increase the effectiveness of federal websites, First Friday Product Testing is Government Video’s Website of the Week.
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