These tools are not evaluation methods. However, when used in tandem with inquiry, inspection and testing they are great for trying out new ideas. They are a crucial part of an iterative design process.
A prototype is a partially completed mockup of your final Web site. Prototyping allows you to test certain parts of the final Web site, especially when it is incomplete. With many sites, this model can be as simple as paper-and-pencil drawings or as complex as actual working code.
Affinity diagramming is a categorization method where users sort various concepts into several categories. This method is used by a team to organize a large amount of data according to the natural relationships between the items. Basically, you write each concept on a Post-It note and tack them onto a wall. Team members move the notes to groups based on how they feel the concept belongs with other concepts.
- Form a team (four to six people).
- Describe the issue/purpose statement.
- Generate idea cards...PostIt notes.
- Tack cards to wall in no particular order.
- Sort cards into group. Just use your gut reactions for where the cards should go. No one speaks during this phase of the process.
- Create header cards.
- Draw the Affinity Diagram. Connect related groups with lines.
Blind voting is when everyone participating in a voting session cannot view the votes of other participants, until all votes have been cast. It is a way for groups to vote on issues without the votes influencing others. Blind voting is often implemented as an electronic meeting system.
Card sorting is a categorization method where users sort cards depicting various concepts into categories. You start with a list of all the items you want sorted. Write down each item on a separate index card. Give your user(s) the stack of cards and have them divide the cards up into piles, telling them that the cards should be grouped the way they (the users) best see fit. This technique is best used in the early stages of development.
Thinking Aloud Protocol
Thinking aloud is when users speak out their thoughts, feelings, and opinions while they are performing an assigned task. Thinking aloud helps you understand how users use your Web site and what considerations users keep in mind when using it. Thinking aloud gives insight into cognitive processes.