Authors: Preece, Rogers & Sharp
Case Studies
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Asking Users and Experts


Chapter Introduction | Web Resources | Assignment Comments | Teaching Materials


In the last chapter we looked at observing users. Another way of finding out what users do, what they want to do, like, or don't like is to ask them. Interviews and questionnaires are well­established techniques in social science research, market research, and human­computer interaction. They are used in "quick and dirty'' evaluation, in usability testing, and in field studies to ask about facts, behavior , beliefs, and attitudes . Interviews and questionnaires can be structured (as in the HutchWorld case study in Chapter 10), or flexible and more like a discussion, as in field studies. Often interviews and observation go together in field studies, but in this chapter we focus specifically on interviewing techniques.

The first part of this chapter discusses interviews and questionnaires. As with observation, these techniques can be used in the requirements activity (as we decribed in Chapter 7), but in this chapter we focus on their use in evaluation. Another way of finding out how well a system is designed is by asking experts for their opinions. In the second part of the chapter, we look at the techniques of heuristic evaluation and cognitive walkthrough. These methods involve predicting how usable interfaces are (or are not). As in the previous chapter, we draw on the DECIDE framework from Chapter 11 to help structure studies that use these techniques.

The main aims of this chapter are to:

  • Discuss when it is appropriate to use different types of interviews and questionnaires.
  • Teach you the basics of questionnaire design.
  • Describe how to do interviews, heuristic evaluation, and walkthroughs.
  • Describe how to collect, analyze, and present data collected by the techniques mentioned above.
  • Enable you to discuss the strengths and limitations of the techniques and select appropriate ones for your own use.