Moderating Usability Tests

Moderating Usability Tests

Principles and Practices for Interacting

1st Edition - February 29, 2008

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  • Authors: Joseph Dumas, Beth Loring
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780123739339
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080558271

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Moderating Usability Tests provides insight and guidance for usability testing. To a large extent, successful usability testing depends on the skills of the person facilitating the test. However, most usability specialists still learn how to conduct tests through an apprentice system with little formal training. This book is the resource for new and experienced moderators to learn about the rules and practices for interacting. Authors Dumas and Loring draw on their combined 40 years of usability testing experience to develop and present the most effective principles and practices – both practical and ethical – for moderating successful usability tests. The videos are available from the publisher's companion web site.

Key Features

  • Presents the ten “golden rules” that maximize every session’s value
  • Offers targeted advice on how to maintain objectivity
  • Discusses the ethical considerations that apply in all usability testing
  • Explains how to reduce the stress that participants often feel
  • Considers the special requirements of remote usability testing
  • Demonstrates good and bad moderating techniques with laboratory videos accessible from the publisher’s companion web site


Usability professionals and software and web design professionals who run usability studies and do user testing, including human factors engineers, usability practitioners/engineers, technical communication professionals, interaction designers, software developers, quality assurance people, and anyone else who needs to do this work.

Table of Contents

  • CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    1.1 Why This Book?
    1.2 What Is Usability Testing?
    1.3 The Importance of Moderating Skills
    1.4 The Golden Rules of Moderating
    1.5 Cultural Points of View
    1.6 About the Sidebars in This Book
    1.7 About the Videos that Accompany This Book
    1.8 About the Companion Web Site

    CHAPTER 2 Getting started as a test moderator
    2.1 What Makes a Great Moderator?
    2.2 Roles of a Moderator
    2.3 Testing Locations
    2.4 Test Preparation
    2.5 Jump-Starting Your Moderating Skills

    CHAPTER 3 Golden rules 1 through 5
    3.1 Rule 1: Decide How to Interact Based on the Purpose of the Test
    3.2 Rule 2: Protect Participants’ Rights
    3.3 Rule 3: Remember Your Responsibility to Future Users
    3.4 Rule 4: Respect the Participants as Experts, but Remain
    3.5 Rule 5: Be Professional, Which Includes Being Genuine

    CHAPTER 4 Golden rules 6 through 10
    4.1 Rule 6: Let the Participants Speak!
    4.2 Rule 7: Remember That Your Intuition Can Hurt and Help You
    4.3 Rule 8: Be Unbiased
    4.4 Rule 9: Don’t Give Away Information Inadvertently
    4.5 Rule 10: Watch Yourself to Keep Sharp

    CHAPTER 5 Initial contacts
    5.1 Recruiting
    5.2 When Participants Arrive
    5.3 The Pretest Briefing
    5.4 Transitioning to the Tasks

    CHAPTER 6 Interacting during the session
    6.1 Interacting for a Reason
    6.2 Keeping Them Talking
    6.3 When and How to Probe
    6.4 Providing Encouragement
    6.5 Dealing with Failure
    6.6 Providing Assistance

    CHAPTER 7 Interacting during post-test activities
    7.1 Maintaining Your Roles
    7.2 Determining the Order of Activities
    7.3 Clarifying Things That Occurred during the Test
    7.4 Administering Ratings and Questionnaires
    7.5 Asking Open-Ended Questions
    7.6 Allowing Others to Interact with Participants
    7.7 Final Activities

    CHAPTER 8 Interacting in a remote test session
    8.1 What Is Remote Testing?
    8.2 Preparing for the Session
    8.3 Interacting during the Session

    CHAPTER 9 Moderator–participant arrangements
    9.1 A Bit of History
    9.2 Physical Arrangement
    9.3 Beliefs about Arrangements
    9.4 Choice of Arrangement
    9.5 Considerations for the Practitioner

    CHAPTER 10 Interacting with diverse populations
    10.1 General Guidelines
    10.2 People with Physical Disabilities
    10.3 The Elderly
    10.4 People Who Have Low Literacy Skills
    10.5 Children and Teens
    10.6 People From Other Cultures

    CHAPTER 11 Integrating the videos
    11.1 About the Videos
    11.2 Content of the Videos
    11.3 The Future of Usability Testing

Product details

  • No. of pages: 208
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Morgan Kaufmann 2008
  • Published: February 29, 2008
  • Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780123739339
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080558271

About the Authors

Joseph Dumas

Joe Dumas is a recognized expert in usability evaluation. He has 25 years experience as a usability professional. He as moderated or observed others moderate thousands of usability testing sessions and taught numerous students and usability professionals how to moderate. He is the author of A practical guide to usability testing (with Ginny Redish), Designing user interfaces for software, and numerous articles, both for researchers and practitioners. He is currently a Usability Consultant for Oracle Corporation. He was a Senior Human Factors Specialist at Bentley College’s Design and Usability Center and taught graduate courses in the college’s Human Factors in Information Design Master’s Degree program. He has a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology.

Affiliations and Expertise

User Experience Consultant

Beth Loring

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