Comparison of usability evaluation methods

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Evaluation Method Evaluation Method Type Applicable Stages Description Advantages Disadvantages
Think aloud protocol Testing Design, coding, testing and release of application Participants in testing express their thoughts on the application while executing set tasks
  • Less expensive
  • Results are close to what is experienced by users
  • The Environment is not natural to the user
Remote Usability testing Testing Design, coding, testing and release of application The experimenter does not directly observe the users while they use the application though activity may be recorded for subsequent viewing
  • Efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction, the three usability issues, are covered
  • Additional Software is necessary to observe the participants from a distance
Focus groups Inquiry Testing and release of application A moderator guides a discussion with a group of users of the application
  • If done before prototypes are developed, can save money
  • Produces a lot of useful ideas from the users themselves
  • Can improve customer relations
  • The environment is not natural to the user and may provide inaccurate results.
  • The data collected tends to have low validity due to the unstructured nature of the discussion
Interviews Inquiry Design, coding, testing and release of application The users are interviewed to find out about their experience and expectations
  • Good at obtaining detailed information
  • Few participants are needed
  • Can improve customer relations
  • Can not be conducted remotely
  • Does not address the usability issue of efficiency
Cognitive walkthrough Inspection Design, coding, testing and release of application A team of evaluators walk through the application discussing usability issues through the use of a paper prototype or a working prototype
  • Good at refining requirements
  • does not require a fully functional prototype
  • Does not address user satisfaction or efficiency
  • The designer may not behave as the average user when using the application
Pluralistic walkthrough Inspection Design A team of users, usability engineers and product developers review the usability of the paper prototype of the application
  • Usability issues are resolved faster
  • Greater number of usability problems can be found at one time
  • Does not address the usability issue of efficiency

Source: Genise, Pauline. “Usability Evaluation: Methods and Techniques: Version 2.0” August 28, 2002. University of Texas.

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