Introduction to Volume 12, Issue 3, May 2017

For our May 2017 issue, Gerry Gaffney has contributed an editorial on “The Revolution Will Not Be Handheld.”  He provides a thoughtful essay about user experience research and design when there are no screens–think voice, Internet of Things, and robots.

In addition to the editorial, this issue includes three research papers, two on variants of the think-aloud method and one on the assessment of user experience in the laboratory.

The first article is “Eye Tracking in Retrospective Think-Aloud Usability Testing: Is There Added Value?” by Fatma Elbabour, Obead Alhadreti, and Pam Mayhew.  They studied two variants of the retrospective think-aloud method, video-cued and gaze-cued, to investigate the value of having eye-tracking data in addition to participants’ verbal data when reviewing usability test sessions. Their results suggested that both variants were effective in detecting major usability problems, and the combination of methods helped evaluators detect more usability problems although they hypothesized that participants’ verbal performance might be somewhat affected by distraction when viewing retrospective eye movements.

The second article is “To Intervene or Not to Intervene: An Investigation of Three Think-Aloud Protocols in Usability Testing,” by Obead Alhadreti and Pam Mayhew (two of the co-authors of the first article).  There’s more than one way to approach the think-aloud method, and the effects of different approaches on the quality of the resulting data continues to be a productive area of research. Through an evaluation of a library website, they investigated the differences in outcomes due to using concurrent think-aloud, speech-communication, and active intervention methods.  The three methods produced similar numbers and types of usability problems, but the active intervention method had some unintended adverse consequences.

The third is “Lab Testing Beyond Usability: Challenges and Recommendations for Assessing User Experiences,” by Carine Lallemand and Vincent Koenig. They investigated how moving beyond traditional usability to the more comprehensive and emotional scope of user experience can be assessed in the laboratory with analysis of how the perceived experience depends on quantitative and qualitative aspects within the laboratory.