Join Chris Nodder for an in-depth discussion in this video Capturing real-time observations, part of UX Foundations: Usability Testing.
- There are three main ways of helping observers track the things they see. A notepad and pen, an observer copy of the task sheet or a shared online document. If you let observers use their own notepads, then they can transfer those observations to Post-it Notes, so you can stick the notes up on the wall. By working as a team to rearrange, those notes into themes, you can identify common issues that several observers noticed. Pulling observations from the notes into Post-it Notes is also a great exercise for getting all observers to work together and discuss what they saw during the study sessions.
Alternatively, you might decide to print off copies of the task sheets for observers to use. Often, in this situation, you show the task wording then add what you hope to learn from this task, and leave some space for observers to write their findings. This helps organize the findings in peoples' minds, because they know what the aim of the task is, so they can keep their notes task-centric. Be very careful, not to mix up the observer and participant copies of the task list.
There's no point in running a study if you've given participants explanations of what you want them to do in the tasks. Another note-taking option is to use sharing software, like a Google Docs document, that all your observers can access at once. The benefit of this is that all the observations are captured digitally, which makes storing and manipulating them much easier. The downside is that everyone is working in the same document, which might lead to Groupthink. In other words, if one person starts writing an observation, other people might choose not to, even if their observation might have been subtly different.
That, in turn, might mean you have less creative ideas for fixing the issues you find. Obviously, each one of these issues has its pros and cons. Digital note-taking gives you an electronic record of everything your observers wrote down, but I've found that typically, handwriting notes works best because it's a faster way to go back and add more notes or draw links between different notes. Also, there's no excuse for observers to have their laptops open, which is always a big temptation to start checking email.
I also strongly suggest that you use a method that let's you group your findings into themes.
- What is usability testing?
- Finding the right participants
- Making a screener
- Asking the right questions
- Avoiding bias
- Making a task list
- Creating the test environment
- Running a pilot study
- Moderating sessions
- Capturing real-time observations
- Analyzing and reporting your results