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Recognize a usability issue when you see it - 1, emotions

Recognize a usability issue when you see it - 1, emotions

As I was watching fresh UXRs doing usability tests I noticed their biggest mistake was not recognizing usability issues when they saw them.

There are usability issues that have clear signs. E.g. when the user simply can't complete a task. They just hit a wall and give up.

But some issues have more subtle signs than that. One cue to look for is any kind of emotional expression.

Here are a few expressions that come up often

  • Participant cries out loud: "Oh, no!", "Jeeez", "Wait, what?"
  • Participant's vocalization: "Aaahhh", "Pfh", [sighs too deeply]
  • Participant's body language: raises eyebrows, frowns, blinks suspiciously too much, scratches head, looks away from the screen thinking

Whenever I see/hear something like this, it's my turn to unpack it. "Did I see you raise your eyebrows?" and participants will elaborate.

Note: power users are especially tricky to test with because they would jump through the hoops with great finesse. But if you can pick up these subtle emotional signs, you can still detect when they suffer.