Going to the users and taking a close look at their routines and regular environment can provide insights into hurdles and obstacles they are facing but not necessarily are aware of. This is a very intimate exercise in which you are required to stay in the background and not distract your participants from doing their tasks. It is important to let them feel as unwatched as possible.
- Ask for a (written) recording permission. Since you might be recording sensitive material from their working environment.
- Remind your test candidates to work just like everyday. Remember to stay in the background (“fly on the wall”).
- Take note of all performed tasks, problems, successes, and failures. It is important to observe the little details that are too subtle or maybe also too obvious to be recognized by the test candidates themselves.
- If you want to ask questions, try not to ask them in a way that interrupts their workflows. Instead, wait for a good moment (e.g. a break) to ask your questions.
- Review and interpret your notes afterwards. It makes sense to go through your documentation together with your test candidate and try to understand the background or context. Share these with your team and discuss your findings.