CN26 - Usability Testing: Creating Good Test Tasks

Rolf Molich, DialogDesign

The success of a usability test depends critically on the quality of the tasks used in the test. This course will present specific guidelines for creating good task sets and for evaluating the quality of a task set. It will also present common pitfalls in task sets and how to avoid them. A large part of the course is spent evaluating a sample, non-trivial task set that contains typical problems.

This course was first presented at CHI 2007 where it was highly rated. It is based on a module in the instructor’s popular full-day course “Advanced Methods for Usability Testing”, which has been highly rated by more than 1,000 attendees at Nielsen-Norman Group conferences and User Interface Engineering conferences.


  • A thorough discussion of common strengths and weaknesses in test task sets made by professionals.
  • A non-trivial exercise based on the instructor’s extensive research of real-world task sets.

Beginners and intermediate usability professionals who want to improve their usability test task creation skills based on extensive practical experience.


  • The instructor presents basic requirements for good usability test tasks and frequently made mistakes.
  • Participants evaluate a sample task set.

Instructor Background:
Rolf Molich owns and manages DialogDesign, a small Danish usability consultancy. Rolf coordinated the Comparative Usability Evaluation (CUE) studies where more than 65 professional usability teams tested or reviewed the same applications. Rolf has is the co-inventor of the heuristic inspection method (with Jakob Nielsen).

Provides additional information about all courses and presentations given by Rolf Molich at the CHI 2008 conference. You can find the detailed proposals, sample slides and sample exercises.