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4106Re: [agile-usability] Re: Online Usability Tests

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  • William Pietri
    Mar 19, 2008
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      Todd Zaki Warfel wrote:
      On Mar 19, 2008, at 1:53 PM, William Pietri wrote:
      Undeniable. But better data is sometimes worth more work. 

      That's my point. Watching a few people would provide richer data that will tell you the why, not just the what.

      Hmmm. I guess I should have been more complete in my last message.

      I'm totally in favor of watching a few people. I love it, and do it whenever I can. Indeed, I've encouraged it often enough that some of my clients are getting tired of hearing it. But there are things you can't learn from that. I tend to see the statistical and personal methods as complimentary, each raising questions that the other can answer, and each helping mitigating the flaws of the other.

      Watching a few people is prone to sample bias, observer bias, confirmation bias, and whatever the social-science equivalent of founder effect is. The data-driven approaches, on the other hand, are prone to promoting too-simple models, often fail to engage our deep understanding of personal behavior and motivation, and, as you say, are better at pointing out the existence of a problem than possible solutions.

      Neither approach is perfect, but I can't think of a project where I haven't found them both useful.

      However, when I mentioned using event tracking and web cams, I was thinking of it partly for remote versions of "watching a few people". I mainly work with internet startups, which have limited resources but global reach. In practice, the few people that they can afford to watch are likely to be picked for their availability. It'd be nice to reduce some of the barriers around studying distant users, and I think new tech could help with that.


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