Observing Users Work

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When gathering requirements, one useful technique is to observe users work, rather than to simply interview them. If a task is complex, it may be hard for users to remember or articulate exactly the steps they go through to accomplish the task. It is much easier for them to just do it.

Watching users do their job will allow you to:

  • Capture all of the steps of a task.
  • Establish the context for an application. If you lack domain knowledge it is very useful to immerse yourself in the environment, as there are many contextual issues that users will simply not be aware of that you can understand by participating in the environment.
  • Gain valuable information about the environment in which the user works (e.g. screen size, loudness of workspace, number of interruptions that occur, etc.).
  • Measure the time taken to perform various tasks.
  • Capture the details of a business process even when users are too busy to meet with you—they may continue to do their job while you watch.

Useful links:




Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner’s Guide to User Research, by Mike Kuniavsky (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1558609237/ref=nosim/boxesandarrows-20)

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