Posted February 4, 2010
Video by: Blip.tv
Posted by: Situated Research, LLC
After watching this video I found many flaws in Steve Krug’s presentation of how he conducts usability tests for websites. There were too many ceiling effects that were occurring through out his research approach that threw up red flags for me. The most obvious one was when we was steering the subject into certain directions when using the website through his questioning. A researcher should never change their questioning, during an experiment, to get the outcome that they want.
Additionally, it seems that direct questioning of users can introduce biases in their behavior. This is a key area that Situated Research aims to protect: allowing users to act as naturally as possible in a situated environment. Interaction with the researcher can sometimes answer questions as to what is going on inside the user’s head, but often it biases their behavior, leading them down a path that otherwise might not have occurred.
Self-reporting by users can also cause problems: not because they are being deliberately dishonest, but because they often give answers that a researcher might want to hear, or because they do not know exactly what they want. With usability research and design, users can be a source for ideas (determining what they want) but often they cannot anticipate what they want until they see (use) it.