Reflect on your experience of conducting and participating in usability evaluation. Comment on how you experienced the techniques as both user and evaluator…

For each of the 2 techniques (user observation, think-aloud):

  • What kinds of information and insights did it give you about the usability of the prototype?

As an evaluator, the better the usability of the sites the less guidance or cues the user needed to complete the tasks, and the feedback the user gave was more fluent and with less negative behaviours, comments or body language.

As a user, sites that had sufficient or good usability were usually simple, the sequences of links and buttons were intuitive, and the names of the categories or options were sufficient and clear not too complex or intricate (pathways). As an example, the Officeworks site was simple and had a very common or well-known interface which was easy to navigate, but it wasn’t too aesthetically appealing, engaging or efficient: just good enough to get a task done. The Sydney Uni library website was too complex, not very efficient (too many options, too many pathways, vocabulary to identify buttons or links was intricate) and not intuitive, the task could not be performed by the user and ended up ‘googling’ it.

  • What aspects of the technique worked well or were frustrating?

As an evaluator, it is a challenge to remember to keep the user ‘on track’ by keeping him/her talking and by asking the right questions and documenting them. As well as just guiding the user and not being able to interfere. What works well is that once you get the user speaking, it comes a bit more naturally to keep narrating as the task goes on.

As a user,although sometimes we speak aloud when we are alone performing tasks, it requires some attention to be constantly narrating what you’re doing and thinking, the moments in which it gets complicated or frustrating. Or even when it’s flowing, to remember to articulate coherent sentences to give proper feedback. Another thing is that you ‘feel the pressure’ that you’re being documented and that you have to perform and finish a task, feels like there ‘expectations’ about you as if you are the one being tested and not the prototype. Privacy is not the best with his technique.

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