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"ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)" <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 15 Sep 2008 11:11:26 -0700
Katie Albers <[log in to unmask]>
Katie Albers <[log in to unmask]>
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Well, I've had testers end up in hysterical tears (some people can't 
help feeling that they are the ones under investigation) and under 
the desk (there *are* paranoid people in the world). These are the 
methods I've developed to deal with the run-of-the-mill test problems.

Don't take notes. Ever. At best it reaks of a theraputic session, at 
worst it feels like you're an animal under observation, and in 
general, it changes people's behavior -- it constantly draws testers' 
awareness back to the fact that this is an abnormal situation. If you 
want your own notes on things to be particularly aware of, schedule 
time after each session to jot down your points and observations, but 
you should never be writing while your tester is in the room.

In general I've found that recording the test with a voice recorder 
(video by preference, and the video camera should be as nearly out of 
sight as possible) is much more likely to allow testers to forget 
that they are being observed. Naturally, I include the recording in 
the release they sign.

I also make sure that I use these terms: Those sitting in front of 
the interface and doing stuff are "testers"; I am a "researcher" or a 
"consultant" -- never an "observer". I've found that emphasizing that 
they are not being tested themselves is nearly always insufficient if 
I don't use this reinforcement. In fact, over the years, I've 
developed a greeting/explanation that works from this 
assumption..."Thank you for offering to take the time to test our 
[foo]. The final/next version of the [foo] relies heavily on the 
feedback from our volunteer testers. We're looking forward to getting 
your input so that we can improve it..."

It's far from perfect, but I find that it puts both the testers and 
me in different and more confident frames of mind that benefit the 
testing process.


>Hello All,
>I appreciate all the quick response; all the materials were really helpful
>to get an idea and gathering knowledge about usability testing; however
>would still be waiting if someone would like to share their experiences
>regarding any major problems faced during the user testing; as while
>conducting few of my tests, I noticed that few of the users were very
>conscious when they knew that they are being noticed and the sessions are
>being recorded. I believe this would not lead me to the results I am
>targeting for; also I noticed that they are unable to think a loud as I
>see them being conscious and hastate to do so in presence of a
>representative taking notes; any guidance or shearing from the members
>would be great help.
>Thanks once again.
>Best Regards,
>Sandeep Rathod
>Sr. HCI Designer

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