Usability Lab Observers Note-taking Guide

Usability Lab Observers Collaborative Note-taking Guide

A quick and easy way to brief people attending usability testing sessions about how and what to observe/note. Posted here after a request for material on the UXPA (UK) Members Slack.

How I use it

I print a complete copy of the slide deck for the member of my team leading as Observation Room Facilitator. I then print the first slide (only) for each of the stakeholders who are observing the sessions. I occasionally refer the team back to the guide, as needed, between sessions.

Prioritising observations

I also print and use David Travis’s Red Route Usability Prioritisation Flowchart to help stakeholders think about the likely severity of any issues encountered during the study.

Thoughts, suggestions…

How does this compare to your note-taking guide/process? Have you used this guide in your user research, or do you have suggestions to make it better? Let me know in the comments.

Dementia Digital Design Guidelines

dementia digital design guidelines framework

A dementia-friendly guidelines/heuristics framework for use evaluating digital systems like websites, apps, web content and user interfaces.

Now also available as How to design a website for someone affected by dementia — a blog post for Alzheimer’s Society.

Dementia, digital and design – things to consider

There are nearly 1 million people living with dementia in the UK and this will grow to over 2 million by 2050. Dementia is non-discriminatory; it affects people from all backgrounds and across generations.

This means that people affected by dementia are very diverse. They’ll have very different levels of digital literacy, in addition to symptoms of dementia. These issues can include:

  • confusion,
  • perception and vision,
  • problem-solving and thinking speed,
  • judgment,
  • processing and sequencing information,
  • language and words,
  • and other physical health conditions too.

Dementia digital design guidelines

Include people affected by dementia

People affected by a diagnosis should be included in all stages of design. Not only will this help you understand, validate and meet real needs, but it’ll also help improve your empathy for those for whom you are designing.

However, it can be hard to find and to recruit people affected by dementia. Reccomendations:

  • visiting people affected by dementia, rather than bringing them to you. You will learn more about their context of use, and reduce the burden on them,
  • using dementia forums, like Talking Point and Reddit to reach representative people,
  • approaching local services in your area, like Dementia Cafe’s,
  • using social media, like twitter and Facebook,
  • consider using specialist research participant recruiters.

Writing, words and terms

People with dementia may struggle with language, like remembering a word or terminology. Therefore use very clear, specific and explicit language. This means:

  • using simple, clear, direct and precise prose, headings and labels,
  • using explicit and arresting content,
  • using dementia positive language, like ‘living with’, rather than ‘suffering from’, dementia,
  • avoiding generic calls to action, complex wordplay, jargon,
  • avoiding using abbreviations and acronyms.

Layout, navigation and interface design

People with dementia can struggle to remember things and become disorientated. Try to make navigation explicit and signpost a route back to the homepage, or the start. This can be achieved by:

  • providing a clear link to ‘Home’, or the start,
  • using clear section breaks to make splits and stages obvious,
  • making hyperlink styles, and states, like ‘visited link’, clear,
  • avoiding splitting tasks across multiple screens,
  • avoiding hiding navigation off-screen.

Colours and contrast

Each type of dementia can damage the visual system in a number of different ways. Dementia also tends to affect older people, although it can affect people from their 30s. This can mean that age-related visual decline may affect the person living with a diagnosis, or their carers, too.

When designing digital user interfaces consider:

  • using high contrast colour schemes to improve readability,
  • using plain backgrounds, rather than patterns or images, for textual content,
  • avoiding the use of blue, especially for important interface components.

Text and fonts

Making letter shapes and words simple and easy to perceive improves readability and comprehension for all people on all devices.

Tips to make words more readable include:

  • using sans-serif fonts because the letter shapes are generally more readable on digital screens,
  • using larger text sizes (and higher contrasts) to provide more information to the eye. This is especially important for older people whose visual system declines with age,
  • avoid using multiple fonts, unnecessarily. This may make the interface and content confusing.


Most of these guidelines are inclusive in nature. This means that they can improve the ease of use of a service for many people, even if they don’t live with dementia.

This is an important part of accessible and inclusive design practice to consider. Accessibility is not just the law; it’s a fantastic idea! That said, these guidelines are particularly important for people affected by a diagnosis.[/ffb_param][/ffb_paragraph_0]

Tribalism vs. Collaboration and Change

The customer is a stranger and humans are not used to paying so much attention to the needs of strangers. The organisation is a tribe, and each department or division is its own sub-tribe. It’s so much easier and more comfortable to be organization-centric. — Gerry McGovern

This reminds me of Dave Gray’s excellent Culture and Change talk at DareConf 2013. Dolphin Department vs. Shark Corp; understanding the organisation’s culture and its potential for resisting change…

Shark Corp; Dolphin Department