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Set up the PC in advance

  • Log in to the PC
  • Open the browser you want them to use and go to the first page of the site you are testing
  • turn on TechSmith Morae and webcam
  • check it is all working

Chat to the tester and put them at their ease

Read the tester the usability test preamble

The usability test preamble is important because:

  • it sets the test in context for them
  • it informs them of their rights
  • it explains to them what to do (especially thinking out loud)
  • it makes sure that they are aware that it is the website that is being tested and not them (this is quite a common fear)

If you are video-ing the test, get the participant to sign a video consent form (doc)

Make notes about the test

Why do you need to make notes?

  • The video is only a back-up and may not work in any case
  • If you don't make notes during the test, someone will have to go back and watch the video to make them
  • The annotations on the notes help in producing the usability report and recommendations

How should you make notes?

  • Make a note of their role, e.g. UG student in Management, PhD student in Chemistry
  • Notes should be laid out with the question number, e.g. 2.3, followed by a brief description of what they did
  • If you think something needs changing in the site as a result of what they did, put R in a circle next to that note - if you have time, note what you think the change should be
  • If they needed a hint, put H in a circle next to that note
  • If they gave up on the task, put F (for Fail) in a circle next to that note
  • If they had to go back or click on a different link, note that down
  • If they hesitated, put P (for Pause) in a circle next to that note
  • If they make a comment about something, note that down, preceded by C in a circle

All usability test notes should be anonymised.

Things to be aware of (but not to put in notes):

  • Facial expression
  • Frequent use of the back button
  • Scrubbing the page or menus with the mouse
  • Lots of eye or head movement
  • Body language, fidgeting

These will tell you if the person is confused or lost

See some example notes

Finishing off

  • Thank the tester for their participation
  • Give them their Amazon Gift certificate
  • See them out of the building if necessary
  • Set the PC up for the next test, or log off if it's the last one of the day

Writing the usability report

  • Make a list of the recommendations arising from the tests
  • Put next to each recommendation how many of the tests supported it (or opposed it)
  • Have a section for general feedback collected during the tests
  • Make a list of any failures that occurred

Example usability reports