Froekjaer, E. and Hornbaek, K. (2005) Cooperative usability testing: complementing usability tests with user-supported interpretation sessions. In CHI ’05 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA ’05), pp. 1383-1386.

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DOI=10.1145/1056808.1056922

Froekjaer and Hornbaek present a usability testing method called Cooperative Usability Testing. It consists of two parts: The first part is an interaction session in which user interacts with the system as in contextual inquiry or in thinking aloud test. The second part consists of an interpretation session in which the test user and the evaluators cooperatively discuss on the problems faced with the use of the system on the basis of a videotape recorded during the interaction session. The authors recommend to use two evaluators in the sessions, so that in the first part one takes notes as the other guides the user, and in the other part they switch roles and the note taker leads the conversation to problems and situations of interest based on the notes.

In their studies, the authors found out that the test users liked to reflect and comment their actions more than in traditional thinking aloud tests with even extensive debriefings. Also the evaluators valued the interpretation sessions, as they helped in clarifying and understanding the most important usability problems. Since the interpretation session is limited to max 45 minutes, the conversations are quite quick, and it is challenging for the former note taker to utilise the notes taken in the interaction sessions. The hastiness also brings out a risk of introducing new and potentially problematic interpretations without careful analysis.

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