Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Usability testing with Children

Some considerations for testing with children...

"Usability testing with children is similar in many respects to usability testing with adults. But in order to get the most out of the sessions, and ensure the child is comfortable and happy, there are a few differences that you need to be aware of.

Stress of new people and surroundings
Children are far more likely than adults to find encountering new places and people stressful. You should always remember this, so try to find as many ways as possible to relax the child. Some things you could do are:

- Allow a significant period of time - at least 10 minutes - to meet the child. This is critical in putting them at ease before beginning the session. Some easy things to talk about might be computer games, cartoons, sports or school. Trying to make all the equipment used during the session match that which the child uses at home/school (phone up their parents/teachers beforehand to check).

- Try to be as comforting and reassuring as possible. It's especially important to make it clear to the child that you want their views on the site and that you're not testing them.

- Plan for the fact that younger children may prefer their parents to remain in the testing room with them. Make sure that parents know that they should stay out of the child's line-of-sight and not help or distract them.

Asking for help
Children are far more used to asking for - and receiving - help than adults, so it's very important for the moderator to:

- Clearly explain at the beginning of the test that you want the child to use the site on their own

- Make a sustained effort to deflect any such questioning during the session itself

Good ways of deflecting questions can include:
- Answering a question with a question (e.g. What do you think [you should do now]?)
- Re-stating that you want the child to use the site ‘on their own’
- Asking the child to have ‘one last go’ before you move on to something else"   continued ...   (Via Usability News)

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