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Testing through user observations. User Observation: Guidelines for Apple Developers , Kathleen Gomoll & Anne Nicol, January 1990 Notes based on: http://pages.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/~sheelagh/courses/481/assignments/2Usability/apple_guidelines_usability.html. User testing.

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testing through user observations

Testing through user observations

User Observation: Guidelines for Apple Developers, Kathleen Gomoll & Anne Nicol, January 1990

Notes based on:


user testing
User testing
  • User testing methods include:
    • Focus groups and interviews
      • Pros and cons?
    • Surveys with paper or web-based forms
      • Pros and cons?
    • Timed performance tests or keystroke protocols
    • Controlled laboratory experiments
      • Pros and cons?
    • User observation…
user observation
User observation
  • Watching and listening carefully to users as they work with a product
  • Why do it?
    • Gathers objective data about users
    • Relatively quick compared to other methods
preparing for an observation
Preparing for an observation
  • Set objectives: figure out what you're testing and what you're not.
    • Limiting scope of test makes it more likely you’ll get information that helps you solve a specific problem
    • What might be the objectives for your project?
  • Design the tasks: specific tasks that you want real users to accomplish
    • Write them out as short, simple instructions
    • What tasks would your user accomplish?
preparing an observation 2
Preparing an observation (2)
  • Plan recording: video or audiotape? Why?
  • Determine setting: ideally, a quiet, enclosed room with a desk, appropriate hardware and software, video camera, and two microphones
  • Find representative users: people who have the same experience level as the typical user for your product
    • Pairs of users is sometimes good: they usually talk more than people working alone
    • Who might you get as your test users?
conducting an observation 1
Conducting an observation (1)
  • Introduce yourself
  • Describe purpose of observation:
    • Set participant at ease
    • You're helping us by trying out this product in its early stages
    • We're looking for places where the product may be difficult to use.
    • If you have trouble with some of the tasks, it's the product's fault, not yours. Don't feel bad; that's exactly what we're looking for.
    • If we can locate the trouble spots, then we can go back and improve the product.
    • Remember, we're testing the product, not you
conducting an observation 2
Conducting an observation (2)
  • Tell the user it’s OK to quit at any time? Why?
  • Explain any physical equipment. Such as?
  • Explain how to “think aloud”Why?
    • Help discover expectations for your product, intentions and problem solving strategies
    • We get a great deal of information from informal tests if we ask people to think aloud as they work through the exercises
    • It may be a bit awkward at first, but it's really very easy once you get used to it
    • If you forget to think aloud, I'll remind you
    • Would you like me to demonstrate?
conducting an observation 3
Conducting an observation (3)
  • Explain that you cannot provide help. Why not?
    • Because we want to create a most realistic situation
    • Go ahead and ask questions for recording on tape
    • I’ll answer any questions you may have afterward
  • Describe the task and introduce the product
    • Give the participant written instructions for the tasks
    • Don’t demonstrate what you’re trying to test!
    • What tasks might you want to observe?
  • Ask if there are any questions before you start
conducting an observation 4
Conducting an observation (4)
  • Conclude the observation
    • Explain what you were trying to find out during the test. Set the participant at ease
    • Answer any remaining questions
    • Discuss any interesting behaviors you would like the participant to explain
  • Use the results!
    • Don’t blame users for mistakes. Why not?
    • Document your results and revision plans
    • When should you do your observation?