1. Document current user interface:
There are features I know to be problematic and needing redesign, and
I am also interested in the usability of simple main tasks.
This documentation and any assumptions you have will act as a point of reference when going through to the test stage. This being said, conducting usability testing in the workplace requires good understanding of how users work and collaborate to achieve tasks. So, gaining that knowledge is a prerequisite to capture how they use tools or software that assist them in doing their work. which takes us to (step 2)
2. Describing the scene :
Describe the physical aspects of the work environment, including the layout of workstations, desk space and
clutter, collaboration and conversation areas.
Because testing will be conducted in a collaborative work environment, understanding the test environment, its limitations, constraints and flows make it easier to undertsand how users do their job. This is intended to give you High-level information that could prove useful down the line.
3. Observe and note user actions:
Reconstruct user/users action through observation and note taking:
What happened, and who did what? What is your impression of these
incidents, and what are team members thoughts in regard to and
interpretations of these events?
source: Ethnography in UX - UX Matters
This will help you gain better understanding of user actions in context (scene description would be useful here) while actively looking for patterns and making assumptions (hypothesis) check if these line-up with any assumptions you have made so far.
- Choose best time to observe while being the least disruptive to them, don't stand in the way :)
- Record your thoughts, observations on your phone this is easier and makes you less noticeable!
4. Interview users while going through problematic tasks:
Contextual inquiry (CI) is a user-centered design (UCD) ethnographic
research method, part of the Contextual Design methodology. A
contextual inquiry interview is usually structured as an approximately
two-hour, one-on-one interaction in which the researcher watches the
user do their normal activities and discusses what they see with the
Once you have gathered enough information through the above steps you could interview users to gain insights about their pain-points, rule out assumptions and refine your test hypothesis further. at this stage recording user actions is ready to go forward:
5. Preparation for testing: facilitation and equipment:
There is a number of solutions that you could employ here, for example: a dedicated software to capture video on iPad which combined with observation and short structured task driven interviews (Contextual Inquiry) could yield good results to address the issues raised.
One of the solutions I have seen allows you to capture the user’s face via the camera, their audio through the mic and their on-screen activity (gestures,taps, swipes and scrolling)
Overall, how you test and what time you dedicate to the task will entirely depend on you and how you have planned for it. This might seem like a long list but I think its achievable.
Related: What's the term for modelling detailed customer behaviour in