Our current process at work for taking notes in moderated usability testing is google sheets or excel and it drives me insane.

I'd be interested to know what other people are using to take notes and how this fits into their workflow (both taking notes and synthesis).

  • As written, there is no correct answer to this question. UX.SE isn't really set up for questions seeking discussion. Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 14:18

1 Answer 1


There are 3 methods to take notes:

1. Hi-tech notes: using computer / tablet / mobile you mentioned it in your question.
2. Pen and Paper: Widely used but not recommended because you might miss some issues the user experienced while you are busy noting them down.
3. Record and analyze: keeps you focused, gives you an option of watching it n number of times - recommended.

If you've ever observed a usability test, you'll know that it's often hard to keep up with the tempo of what's going on. Nothing seems to be happening — and then suddenly a handful of usability problems appear at once. It seems impossible to get them all down: you write down one usability issue, but that prevents you from observing the next problem. You look at the participant — who is now struggling with a different problem — and you wonder how the participant got here and what you've missed. If you have the job of moderating the session and taking notes, it's even more difficult: how can you focus on the participant and take notes?

So it's no surprise that many people think the easiest solution to this problem is to use James's approach. Skip the note taking and just review the recordings, or alternatively just note down the key issues after each participant has finished.


This article Note taking during user testing speaks more on these methods. And usability.gov has a great document on Note taker's guide

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