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This UIE Virtual Seminar (10/21/09) will cover six of the “golden rules” for moderating usability tests found in Moderating Usability Tests: Principles for Interacting with Participants that Beth …

This UIE Virtual Seminar (10/21/09) will cover six of the “golden rules” for moderating usability tests found in Moderating Usability Tests: Principles for Interacting with Participants that Beth Loring co-authored with Joe Dumas. The creation of these best practices stems from the reality that most practitioners learn only by example. These rules give you the seldom thought about underlying principles of interacting with test participants.

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  • Hi, I’m Beth Loring and I’m presenting a User Interface Engineering virtual seminar titled “Effectively Moderating Usability Tests” on October 21st 2009, at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time. The goal of this seminar is to give you some guidance on successful moderating techniques, especially how to interact with test participants, so that you’ll feel more comfortable and confident the next time you moderate a usability test. Moderating isn’t easy – it takes skill and practice. There’s nothing worse than watching someone who doesn’t really know how to moderate effectively – they become nervous, or ask biased questions, or lead the participant to the right answer during a task. I’ve been teaching people how to moderate for quite a long time now, and some of the most common questions have to do with things like: [switch slide]
  • Maybe you’ve run into these situations yourself, or you’ve watched someone else try to handle these issues. It turns out that dealing with failure is one of the hardest parts of moderating. [switch slide]
  • That’s because it’s hard to watch someone struggle without helping them. We all have a natural inclination to help, to take away their pain… But, when people struggle to use a difficult product, and the designers are watching, it’s incredibly motivational. The designers can see what the problems are, and there’s no arguing that participants struggled with, or failed, a task because they watched it happen. Unfortunately, participants usually blame themselves when they can’t successfully use a product, even if we tell them at the beginning of the session: “We’re not testing YOU, we’re testing the product, so if you struggle with a task, that actually helps us by showing us where the product can be improved.” They don’t believe it! But there are some thing you can do to minimize the impact of failure. For example, you can Remind them again that they can’t make a mistake Periodically tell them how well they’re doing, and how useful their feedback is You can stay matter of fact, and not get emotional And if things get really tense or the participant gets too frustrated, you can take a break Of course, there are a number of ways to handle any given situation. Ultimately you will have to judge for yourself what the appropriate response is. But this seminar will give you advice and guidance on what to consider, so you can make better decisions when the heat is on – in the test room. [switch slide]
  • I’ll present this guidance in the form of 6 Golden Rules for moderating. These are 6 of the 10 rules taken from the book Moderating Usability Tests: Principles and Practices for Interacting that I co-authored with Joe Dumas in 2008. These 6 rules are: This seminar is not going to cover the basics of usability testing such as selecting and recruiting participants, choosing tasks, determining the right objective and subjective measures, and analyzing the data. Those are being covered in other UIE seminars. I’m really going to concentrate on what you need to know to moderate effectively when you actually have a participant in the room and you’re trying to get good data. At least a third of the seminar time will be question-and-answer, so you’ll be sure to get my thoughts on YOUR specific moderating issues. [switch slide]
  • I really hope you’ll join me on October 21 st at 1:30 eastern time. I’m sure you’ll come away from this seminar more confident in your moderating ability, and armed with the tools you need to make good decisions in the most common testing situations.

Transcript

  • 1. Effectively Moderating Usability Tests Beth Loring UIE Virtual Seminar October 21, 2009 1:30 Eastern time
  • 2. Common questions
    • How to make participants feel comfortable in a test setting
    • How to ask – and answer – questions in an unbiased way
    • How much or how long to allow a participant to struggle on a task
    • What to do if a participant gets completely stuck (or fails) a task
  • 3. Dealing with failure
    • This is often the hardest part of moderating
    • Failure helps motivate product changes
    • Participants very often blame themselves
    • Your instructions can help, but don’t eliminate this problem
  • 4. Six important rules
    • Decide how to interact based on the purpose of the test
    • Remember future users
    • Let participants speak!
    • Remain calm and in charge
    • Be unbiased
    • Don’t give information away inadvertently
  • 5. Effectively Moderating Usability Tests Beth Loring UIE Virtual Seminar October 21, 2009 1:30 Eastern time