salvage your usability session! practical tips for moderators

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How do you take a usability session that’s gone bananas and – to mix metaphors – turn it into lemonade? This talk moves beyond the basics of “how to” facilitate a usability study and in to practical “what to do when” territory, focusing on those situations that challenge every aspect of your moderating skills. Whether it’s dealing with a very angry participant or a participant whose actions make you uncomfortable, we can use the stories and experiences of others to let us “practice” our responses in a safe space. This practicum will focus on stories – embarrassing and hopefully inspiring – from the presenters’ many years of running usability studies and the experiences that audience members will share. Audience members will be able to “vote” for which stories to focus on for the rest of the talk. Their choices will feed into live interactive examples (complete with a “moderator” and “participant” assistant with improv experience) that highlight potential approaches for the challenges presented. Throughout the demonstrations, we’ll discuss: What made sense about how the moderator handled this? What might have been done differently? Why? Different words? Different tone? Different body language? How can we make sure we don’t make things worse? Whether you’ve only moderated a few usability sessions or you have hundreds under your belt, this talk will let you share your experiences and learn from what others have done. The demonstrations will bring best practices to life, showing how to apply what you may have read to real life. Attendees will leave with practical tips for salvaging the next challenging situation they encounter while moderating as well as a renewed inspiration for meeting those challenges head-on.


  • 1. SalvageYour Usability Session! PracticalTips for Moderators Fiona Tranquada & Scott Williams | UXPA Boston | May 15, 2014

2. 3Tranquada & Williams, UXPA Boston 2014 Agenda Salvage Im Listening Interactive Demonstration Takeaways Questions? 3. 4Tranquada & Williams, UXPA Boston 2014 salvage (verb) To save or rescue 4. 5Tranquada & Williams, UXPA Boston 2014 Im Listening What kind of challenges have you encountered while moderating? 5. 6Tranquada & Williams, UXPA Boston 2014 What should we demonstrate? Photo by Flickr user theresasthompson 6. 7Tranquada & Williams, UXPA Boston 2014 Interactive Demonstrations Pay attention to. What is said How its said (tone) Body language What factors might affect how the moderator should respond? 7. 8Tranquada & Williams, UXPA Boston 2014 Whats in your toolbox? Photo by Flickr user skistz Get the participant back on track Refocus; Encourage Adjust the session focus or skip tasks Alleviate; Assist; Accommodate Provide some space Take a break End early 8. 9Tranquada & Williams, UXPA Boston 2014 KeyTakeaways Take a moment! Participant comfort and safety first Be genuine and empathetic Project confidence Forgive yourself for mistakes, but learn from them 9. 10Tranquada & Williams, UXPA Boston 2014 Questions? 10. Thank you! Fiona Tranquada @fionified Scott Williams