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Part: III Appendixes > Running a Pilot Test

Running a Pilot Test

Before running the tests with actual participants, you should carry out a pilot test with two or three people. In this case, coworkers and friends are OK. The key is to get used to the procedure of running a test and to work out any bugs in your procedure. A pilot also helps you figure out how long the test will take so that you know whether you need to cut or possibly add more tasks.

After you have finished the pilot tests, try analyzing the collected data. This data should not be used in the final analysis, but you should do the analysis to make sure that you are collecting the right data. For example, once when we were evaluating a Web site, we asked people to sort a list of features according to importance. Although the exercise was useful, it turned out that the data we had gathered was extremely difficult to analyze properly. One person mentioned that only the top two things in the list were really important to her; another identified the top four items as important. In retrospect, a better way of gathering this information would have been to ask people to rate the importance of each feature from 1 (not important) to 7 (very important). If we had tried analyzing data from the pilot test, we would have caught the problem before conducting the real test.


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