Co-discovery Learning

 Characteristics

Applicable stages: design, code, test, and deployment.
Personnel needed for the evaluation:
Usability experts: 1
Software developers: 0
Users: 6
Usability issues covered:
Effectiveness:Yes
Efficiency:No
Satisfaction:Yes
Can be conducted remotely: No Can obtain quantitative data: No

 Overview

During a usability test, two test users attempt to perform tasks together while being observed. They are to help each other in the same manner as they would if they were working together to accomplish a common goal using the product. They are encouraged to explain what they are thinking about while working on the tasks. Compared to thinking-aloud protocol, this technique makes it more natural for the test users to verbalize their thoughts during the test. This technique can be used in the following development stages: design, code, test, and deployment.
Procedure
Pair the test users into groups of two. It is preferrable to pair two users who know each other into one group so that they won't feel uncomfortabel working together. Provide the test users with the product to be tested (or a prototype of its interface) and a scenario of tasks to perform. Ask them to perform the tasks using the product, and explain what they're thinking about while working with the product's interface. Have them help each other in the same manner they would if they were working together to accomplish a common goal using the product.
References

  1. J. Nielsen "Usability Engineering" p.198, Academic Press, 1993.
  2. Dumas and Redish, A Practical Guide to Usability Testing, Ablex Publishing. p. 31, "Co-discovery".
  3. Rubin, J. Handbook of Usability Testing. John Wiley & Sons. p. 240, "Testing two participants at a time."