Thursday, June 12, 2014

Retrospective Review: Get quantitative and qualitative at the same time

It seems to be common practice to draw a line in the sand between Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research. When you are conducting usability testing, it also looks like many sources advise to select which it's going to be. Depending on if we are talking about formative testing or summative testing, you could end up with either.

Formative Research
Research carried out with the intent of capturing qualitative or quantitative data that can help mold or form a product, service or design. As such, it's usually research that is done when a product, service or design is being first created, or as part of a redesign effort.
 (Other UX Definitions)

Summative Research
Research carried out after a product, service or design has been completed. Usually this sort of research is intended to help validate that design goals have been met. As the name implies, it's a way of summarizing an effort. (Other UX Definitions)

In the book "Handbook of Usability Study" by Jeff Rubin and Dana Chisnell, the concept of "Retrospective Review" is introduced. It's where participants are encouraged first to complete the tasks. As the person completes the task, the Test Moderator keeps note of where in the record the user struggled, or key points that more explanation would be useful. At the end of completing the tasks, the moderator plays back those key moments and then asks the participant to explain their actions.


The main drawback to this method is simply the time that it takes. It is important to be respectful of the participants time, so if the session must go over 30 minutes with this method, then the standard "Think out loud" method should be employed instead.

I'd love to hear if this strategy has worked for you. 

On a side note, the above mentioned book is one of the "Getting Started" suggested books from the User Experience Reading List: Getting Started in User Experience

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