usability testing methods. self-reporting logs and thinking aloud protocol.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014 13:17

In my previous article I told you about such usability testing methods as Surveys, Questionnaires and Pluralistic walkthroughs. This time, let’s talk about Self-reporting logs and Thinking aloud protocol.

self-reporting logsSelf-report logs are forms of “pencil-paper” type, in which users fix all actions and thoughts about interaction with application. This method is economical enough as experts are involved only in handling of results, without supervising action of the user in runtime of jobs.

The main disadvantages of this method, as well as other methods that involve independent work of users, are the inability of monitoring and recording their emotional responses to interaction with the application and issue of the adequacy of their reports of what they actually do. Therefore, in this case, the selection of users participating in an experiment becomes fundamental.

For research carrying out, it is necessary to provide examinees with access to an application prototype, the task description, which they should solve at its usage, and the standardized form for registration the users’ actions. Normally, this technique is used at early stages of planning or development or for detection of the user’s preferences.

thinking aloud protocolFixing of thoughts of the user involved in experiment is one of the most popular techniques at an estimation of functionality of application. Ask the user to say aloud all thoughts, feelings and representations which arise in the course of the task decision.

The user is provided with access to tested application or its prototype and given the job, which should be done in the course of its maintenance. User’s task is to carry out the task by simultaneously “sounding” everything that comes to mind concerning the interface.

The data is registered in an audio tape or fixed in writing.

Unlike the majority of other methods, this technique allows to estimate immediate responses of the user to interaction with the separate application components, not delayed on time. And if his waiting concerning necessary for the decision of the task operations disperses from the application designer’s decision, probably, it’s necessary to change this decision.

In spite of the fact that the primary goal of technique is clearing up of the user representations, with its help it is possible to implement other purposes, too. For example, terminology, which is used by the user for a designation of these or those elements of the interface, can be used in the design of application.

The method assumes generalization of the data received from several users. There is also a close to this technique method of answers to the questions, using not verbalization of thoughts and emotions, but the directive questions of the experimenter with fixing of answers of the user.

Next time we’ll continue to consider usability testing methods.

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