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Is peer moderating a good practice?
What are your thoughts on having someone else not involved in the project moderate research?
I’ve read that it can help remove bias since people working on the project can be “too close to the project”.
I’d be wary of having someone who had been too involved in building something actually testing it. It is so, so difficult to not ask loaded questions which ‘give the game away’.
Ideally you have someone in the company who isn’t a designer who does the testing, as testing is a skillset in its own right.
There are pros and cons to this approach.
- Individual designers are removed from watching users react with strong negative emotions and hurtful words, which can protect junior and sensitive designers. Peer moderation, when done correctly, adds a filter to the feedback.
- Enforces accountability – individual designers can’t ram their work through testing to get the results they want.
- Making every designer a tester can be like having developers QA each others’ work. The bugs become everyone’s problem, not just the QA/researcher’s problem.
- This approach assumes that everyone on the team is competent at user research, and can make test subjects feel at ease. There’s a lot of skill that has to go into that.
- This could be really hard to do with globally distributed teams in different time zones.
- Team dynamics might create awkward situations. For example, junior designers testing an intimidating principal designer’s work could create an uncomfortable situation for both if the test feedback is negative. Likewise, researchers might struggle to maintain impartiality when testing a friend’s (or rival’s) concept.
- Is it in the organization’s best interest to remove designers from seeing users struggle with their own work, even if there are hurt feelings? Filtered, sanitized research results don’t always help designers become better.
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