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I recently moderated an in-person usability study. Looking back over the session I thought I’d evaluate a few things about what happened, what I did well, and what I could do better.

Surprisingly, the participant did really well at thinking out loud. I didn’t have to remind him to tell me what he was thinking. One thing that happened was that because I was using my laptop that has hot corners assigned, the participant accidentally activated one, causing the screen to disappear. That’s awesome. I can’t believe I didn’t switch over to the Guest Account. Also, I have a Flash Blocker installed in Chrome. So a main piece of the interface was missing. Who uses Flash anyways?

I think I did ok not leading the participant. I feel like I could have done better with followup questions after the task. I don’t think I would have done the whole “How easy or hard do you think that was.” but maybe just asking how it compared with other sites or whatever.

Since I didn’t design the site, I wasn’t biased one way or another. I’ve done sessions on competitor’s sites, and I seem to actively root against the site. I get happy when the participant fails – likely because I know we’ve addressed that issue in our own design. I also didn’t try to “cover up” any flaws in the experience design – even when the guy was staring straight at a button that did what he wanted – and couldn’t find it.