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Observation of people interacting with a device or an interface to perform a task provides a way of capturing data on errors and performance time as well as providing some insight into the ease or difficulty with which the task is performed. It forms an important method of analysis in cognitive ergonomics to analyze the performance of a user and identify the potential problem areas in using a device or application.
There are many and varied observational techniques,
Direct – In this method the observer notices the task performed by the user. The user could be aware of this.
Indirect - In this method the observer could be analyzing and observing the user without the user’s knowledge or with the help of an external tool like video, photographs etc.
Participant observation – In this method the observer performs the task or work under consideration. Actually performing a task by oneself can provide some useful insight into potential problems that the user may encounter