Cognitive walkthrough


Similar to contextual enquiry, except that the goal is to understand how a novice or infrequent user achieves goals using a system.


To understand if a system is easy to use for novice or infrequent users and what the barriers to adoption might be.


  1. Arrange to observe a novice or infrequent user at work, making sure any supervisory permissions are secured in advance if required.
  2. Ask the user to carry out tasks of interest and to explain out loud what they are doing and also what they are thinking and feeling.  Make notes as you go along.  You could also take pictures if useful and not disruptive to the process of observation.
  3. Ask questions whenever you feel you need to understand better any barriers to completing tasks.
  4. Specifically ask the user to explain pain-points (things they find particularly problematic) and things they feel could be improved.
  5. Replay you understanding back to the user to make sure you have a good understanding of how easy the system was to use in completing tasks.
  6. Complete notes as soon afterwards as possible.