Erica Olmsted-Hawala (short bio)
U.S. Census Bureau, Center for Survey Measurement, United States
Sunday, 22 June 2014, 14:00 - 17:30
Learn how to moderate usability tests using research based think-aloud protocols that work
Think-aloud protocols are the primary technique used by usability professionals when conducting usability tests. The reason for using think-aloud protocols is because the test administrator cannot observe what the user is thinking. The usability professional hopes to get an understanding of the users expectations and expressions of surprise when things don't go as expected. As users think aloud, they give a running commentary of their thought-action process. It is the role of the test administrator to listen to what the user is saying and watch what the user is doing. From the users’ verbalizations, the test administrator gets a better understanding of where the user experiences difficulties and what the user problems are with the interface.
However, there are many different variants of think-aloud protocols that practitioners use, and research has shown that the type of think-aloud protocol in use effects the type of data that is collected.
This tutorial will introduce students to what is meant by think-aloud protocols. In this context, "protocol" is used to mean a method or a set of constraints -- what is the user supposed to do while thinking aloud and what is the test administrator allowed to say or not say.
The tutorial will highlight some of the primary variants in use today and include relevant research on instances when one variant might be more appropriate than another.
There will be time for students to practice administering different think-aloud protocols, and discuss ways to review the type of data that was collected.
In the tutorial students will learn of the experimental work on think-aloud protocols as well as the importance of using research driven think-aloud protocols when conducting usability studies.
The tutorial will cover:
Primarily usability practitioners, those new to the field and those who have been in the field and need a re-fresh on think-aloud strategies, user experience (UX) designers, UX enthusiasts, but also those interested in cognitive testing, web developers, technical writers, and to some extent, survey methodologists.
Erica Olmsted-Hawala has over 12 years of experience in usability testing at the US Census Bureau where she works on usability evaluations of Web-based surveys and the data-rich Website that highlights Census information. She frequently leads usability studies on different facets of the Website and Web-based surveys, using the think-aloud protocol to elicit useful feedback from real users of the products.
Erica has presented research at national and international conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals. She has peer-reviewed articles in the following places: International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, Journal of Usability Studies, Proceedings of CHI2010, and Proceedings of HCII2013. She has led a number of research projects, two of which have focused on think-aloud methodology. The results of this research have been presented at international conferences as well as in a webinar.
Erica Olmsted-Hawala received her Masters degree in Technical Communication from the University of Central Florida. She designed her own BA at St. Olaf College in Minnesota incorporating strands from the fields of Literature and Women's Studies.