Expert evaluations – the discovery phase (Step 3)

in Usability testing

My previous article described the second step of the Discovery Phase of expert evaluations which is a quick pass through all tasks to identify major bloopers.

The third and final step of the Discovery Phase is a detailed analysis of the interface. This is your deep inspection, when you will gather the majority of data for your usability report.

Here’s what you do:

  • Spend 15 minutes reminding yourself of key usability guidelines and models of human-computer interaction
  • Do each user task one by one
  • Note down potential problems as you come across them. For each problem record:
    1. The problem faced by users, e.g. “Users will not notice the home page promotion on right hand side.”
    2. Where and when the problem happens, e.g. “When users land on the home page.”
    3. Cause of the problem, “The video in the centre of page will dominate users’ attention.”
    4. Possible trade-offs considered by developers, “Putting promotions on the right hand side is common practice.”

Top tip: Don’t get bogged down in over-analysing whether something is or isn’t a problem. This is critical – remember that the Discovery Phase is pure data collection. Just write it down. You’ll ditch some of the problems later on in the Analysis Phase. For the moment, this is pure non-judgemental data collection.

Similarly, don’t think about solutions. That comes later too. Just plough through the interface identifying potential problems.


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