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Post-its™ and Affinities: low-tech tools for high-impact results

This tutorial will show a simple and engaging method using post-it notes and affinity diagramming to capture and analyze data from usability tests. Participants will get an overview of the process, an opportunity to practice the method, and ideas for applying the method to their own work.

Half Day Tutorial by Mary Beth Rettger (The MathWorks, Inc.)
Usability Fundamentals (UF)
6:30pm to 9:30pm on Monday, June 08, 2009

About the Half Day Tutorial

The method consists of a few basic components, which can be extended or modified to meet the needs of the testing situation. Basically: • Team members (e.g. developers, marketing, quality engineering, documentation, etc.) are encouraged to be active observers during the usability test; they are given instruction in what to look for and how to collect data. Having team members participate gives them more ownership over the results. • Observers are asked to take notes during the test on post-it notes. They are asked to write only one item per post-it. In many cases, their particular expertise allows them to catch issues a usability specialist might miss. • After testing is completed, observers and other team members are asked to participate in a debriefing meeting, which may include an affinity diagramming exercise. The debriefing method is held as soon as possible after the test, while issues are still fresh in observers’ minds. • Team members are provided instruction on affinity diagramming, and asked to use this method to organize the post-it note observations from the test. The exercise virtually requires that they read a significant number of the raw observations. Because they assign the affinity categories, the information is organized using language and groupings that are sensible to the team. • The output of the affinity diagram can be recorded in a spreadsheet for further analysis and discussion.