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Analyzing observational usability data

Prepare data

Prepare observational data for analysis by creating detailed observation notes from videotapes, audiotape, or screen recordings for each testing session. Also, edit the observational notes and data logs taken during the testing sessions to make them more understandable and concise. 

Organize the data into categories of findings

How you organize your qualitative findings will depend on whether you selected the top-down or bottom-up data analysis approach during the planning stage of your study.   

Using the top-down approach

If you have predefined set of categories for analysis, create a table like the one below, and organize the observational data and your notes for each task

Example

Task 2-a: “Find the quickest survey to use for….”

Using the bottom-up approach

Find themes in the data and then organize the data in a table similar to the one above.  To find themes:

  1. Write out all major issues that were encountered in the test.  
  2. Categorize them into groups of similar themes.
  3. Give labels to the categories.
  4. Organize the data in a structured analyzable format (similar to the table above)

Post-its or note cards may be useful (write one issue on one post-it or note card, and then divide them into groups of similar content).

If available, qualitative analysis software such as ATLAS.ti can be used for this process.

Page last updated: Sep 21 2011
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