Evaluate Interface Learnability with Cognitive Walkthroughs

Summary: Learnability is a crucial component of UX for complex and novel interfaces. Cognitive walkthroughs can identify design problems that derail new users.

A cognitive walkthrough is a technique used to evaluate the learnability of a system from the perspective of a new user. Unlike user testing, it does not involve users (and, thus, it can be relatively cheap to implement). Like heuristic evaluations , expert reviews , and PURE evaluations , it relies on the expertise of a set of reviewers who, in a highly structured manner, walk through a task and assess the interface from a new user’s point of view.

Definition: A cognitive walkthrough is a task-based usability-inspection method that involves a crossfunctional team of reviewers walking through each step of a task flow and answering a set of prescribed questions, with the goal of identifying those aspects of the interface that could be challenging to new users.

A cognitive walkthrough takes place in a workshop setting . The user tasks to be evaluated within the session are defined in advance. (If you have a list of top tasks , that’s a good source for evaluation tasks.)  The workshop participants may include UX specialists, product owners, engineers, and domain experts.

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