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Moderating Usability Tests: Principles and Practices for Interacting

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Overview

Many aspects of usability testing have been thoroughly studied and documented. This isn’t true, however, of the details of interacting with the test participants who provide the critical usability data. This omission has meant that there have been no training materials and no principles from which new moderators can learn how to interact.

Moderating Usability Tests is the place for new and experienced moderators to learn about the rules and practices for interacting that have never been described in one place before. Authors Dumas and Loring draw on their combined 40 years of usability testing experience to develop and present the most effective principles and practices - both practical and ethical --for moderating successful usability tests.

To help usability professionals, students, and novices understand these principles, the authors provide videos from their lab that demonstrate good and poor interaction as well as commentary from a panel of testing experts on why certain techniques succeed or fail. The videos are accessible from the publisher’s companion web site.

• Presents the ten “golden rules” that maximize every session’s value
• Offers targeted advice on how to maintain objectivity
• Discusses the ethical considerations that apply in all usability testing
• Explains how to reduce the stress that participants often feel
• Considers the special requirements of remote usability testing
• Demonstrates good and bad moderating techniques with laboratory videos accessible from the publisher’s companion web site

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Joe and Beth really know their stuff, and they’ve put together a book that’s enormously valuable for usability professionals and usability amateurs. Whether you’ve conducted hundreds of tests or are about to try your first one, you owe it to yourself--and your team...and your test participants--to read this. - Steve Krug, author of Don’t Make Me Think

Interacting with participants in a calm and neutral manner may well be the most difficult part of doing usability testing. Now you no longer have to worry about how to do that. Just follow Dumas and Loring's wonderful, practical advice and you will be prepared not only for typical encounters, but also for the unusual and unexpected, for doing remote testing, and for working with special populations. Moderating Usability Tests is a great resource for anyone who interacts with usability test participants. - Janice (Ginny) Redish, President, Redish & Associates, Inc.

Everyone talks about research methods, but the formal aspects of those methods only get you so far. The difference between getting a little data or a lot of data, only discovering problems or getting ideas about solutions, bias or validity, throw-away data versus generalizable insights, often depend on the soft skills, the ability to effectively moderate testing. In the past, you were expected to get these skills through apprenticeships or trial and error. Moderating Usability Tests: Principles for Interacting with Participants removes the mystery and provides practical advice on how to get the most out of research. It will be invaluable to students learning about usability testing for the first time, people newly charged with evaluating products, and even old hands looking to refine and improve their technique. - Arnold Lund, Director of User Experience, Microsoft

You may not think that being a “Gracious Host” is among your assignments in moderating a usability test, but you will learn why this and other roles with similarly illuminating names are important to your success. In this generous book, Dumas and Loring give the benefit of their decades of experience and astute observation of both the foundational and the subtle aspects of conducting usability tests. Many questions you didn't think to ask until you were on the hot seat are answered here, and will help you achieve a level of confidence as a test moderator that may have seemed beyond reach, even if your participants are from challenging-to-test populations. With this highly ethical and thoroughly grounded program for developing moderator skills and avoiding pitfalls, Dumas and Loring make a strong contribution to the body of knowledge on testing products. The big surprise of the book is that their clear, reasoned, and detailed suggestions about interacting with test participants and developers will likely spill over and improve your relationships with co-workers, family, neighbors, and friends. - Elisabeth Bayle, Bayle Collaborations

At this point, virtually everyone in the software industry knows what usability testing is. An unfortunate side effect of this awareness is that many people are conducting usability testing who have no idea how to do so in a way that will yield valid, reliable and useful data. Other than the design of the test itself, proper and effective moderation of test sessions is one of the most important - and least understood - aspects of usability testing. Here is a book by two highly regarded experts that covers this topic thoroughly in a very readable format. No one who has not already been well trained should attempt to conduct usability testing without first reading this book cover to cover, and viewing all the excellent videos the authors provide. - Deborah J. Mayhew, Deborah J. Mayhew & Associates

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780123739339
  • Publisher: Elsevier Science
  • Publication date: 2/29/2008
  • Series: Interactive Technologies Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 7.55 (w) x 9.15 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Joe Dumas is a recognized expert in usability evaluation. He has 25 years experience as a usability professional. He as moderated or observed others moderate thousands of usability testing sessions and taught numerous students and usability professionals how to moderate. He is the author of A practical guide to usability testing (with Ginny Redish), Designing user interfaces for software, and numerous articles, both for researchers and practitioners. He is currently a Usability Consultant for Oracle Corporation. He was a Senior Human Factors Specialist at Bentley College’s Design and Usability Center and taught graduate courses in the college’s Human Factors in Information Design Master’s Degree program. He has a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology.
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction
Introduction to the problem
Goals of the book and videos
A brief history of usability testing practice

Part I: The rules of interaction

Chapter 2: Your roles as administrator
The gracious host
The objective observer
The tradeoffs between them

Chapter 3: The Golden Rules -

Part 1: the Five Core Rules
1. The goals of the test and your relationship with developers determine why and when to interact
2. Respect the participants? rights
3. You have a responsibility to future users
4. The participants are the experts; you are in charge
5. Being ?real? is being professional

Chapter 4: The Golden Rules -

Part 2: Five Additional Rules
6. Let the participants speak
7. Your intuition can hurt and help you
8. Be unbiased
9. Don't give away information inadvertently
10. Watch yourself to keep sharp

Part II: Moderating the test session

Chapter 5: First contact ? Setting the tone
Pre-test instructions
Informed consent

Chapter 6: Interacting During the Session
Keeping the participant talking
How much to interact
Providing encouragement
Dealing with stress
Deciding when to give assistance
How to move the participant along

Chapter 7: Post-task activities
What to do first
Taking advantage of their knowledge
Presenting ratings and questionnaires
Making a good last impression

Part III: Special topics
Chapter 8: Interacting in a remote testing session
Preparing for the session
Getting the session started
Interacting when you can't see the participant

Chapter 9: In the Room vs. Out of the Room
Advantages and disadvantages of being in the room
Advantages and disadvantages of being out of the room

Chapter 10: Summing Up
Where do we go from here?
Advice for novice administrators

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