Usability Testing in the National e-Learning Laboratory (NELL)

Nell control centre

NELL is a research facility specialising in usability testing for human computer interactions.

NELL allows researchers to systematically explore and improve the use of learning and knowledge-based technologies. The laboratory consists of sophisticated hardware and software that can observe up to four participants simultaneously.

Technology for Usability Testing

  • Independent user workstations (4)
  • Equipped for capture of user video from multiple camera inputs, audio capture, screen capture,remote screen control, mouse and keyboard log
  • One station with eyetracking capture and analysis facility.
    Independent observation and analysis stations (4)
  • Equipped for control and recording of user screen interactions, live analysis, post-session analysis.
    Connection and configuration matrix, facial analysis, research management and analysis software.
  • Recording (video and audio) focus groups of up 10 people in separate room.

Two of the four user workstations are located in a separate room (glass box) that can be observed from the observation desk via two dome cameras and audio.

User observation:  User behaviour is observed and recorded using Observer XT technology. This system records behaviour using using video and sound recording, eye-tracker and interaction logging. 


Users’ behaviour is recorded using SMI Begaze eye-tracking technology.    The gaze position can then be matched against content on the screen.  We can then produce  heatmaps and scanpath images and movies which show what user was looking at. 

Heat maps visualise the fixations using the colour scale between violet (less hits) and red (most hits). Red areas received most attention by users



Eye tracking data is produced in a number of both graphical and numerical ways using SMI Begaze technology. A coding scheme is created using Observer XT and the audio/visual data is analysed using the same technology.

7 Responses to “Usability Lab”

  1. Johnny Says:

    very good blog. Is there any other facility’s in Ireland that carry out this kind of testing?

    • nellatnci Says:

      Hi Johnny,

      Thanks for the comment. I don’t know of any facilities such as our in Dublin, though there may be some outside the capital. I do know University College Cork are very well know for usability testing and in particular, the development of the SUMI evaluation questionnaire.

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