# Cognitive Walkthrough
During a cognitive walkthrough, the usability of an interactive system is assessed by experts from the point of view of a user.
During a Cognitive Walkthrough, a usability expert evaluates the interactive system from the user's point of view by putting himself in the role of a user. He conducts concrete tasks with the interactive system and checks the fulfilment of the usability criteria from the perspective of a persona: can the task be completed satisfactorily without detours? Does the interactive application provide enough hints and feedback to recognize progress and next steps?
In general, an inspection by experts (besides the Cognitive Walkthrough, e.g. also the Heuristic Evaluation gives feedback on how a product or a concept idea can be optimized. Expert reviews, in general, are particularly helpful because usability experts can also suggest solutions for difficult design problems based on their experience with many different applications. An inspection by experts is particularly useful if an existing product is to be improved or if concepts for a new product already exist that you do not yet want to test with end-users.
A prioritized and weighted list of vulnerabilities / usability problems of the investigated system as well as suggestions for improvement.
Before a cognitive walkthrough, the usability experts and the part of the interactive system to be investigated must be selected. If available: Which usage scenarios should be evaluated from the perspective of which persona? Tasks and subtasks must be defined for the evaluation.
Each usability expert carries out the evaluation independently and works through the defined tasks. In doing so, attention is paid and documented to whether usability problems arise.
The usability experts may evaluate the cognitive walkthrough in a joint workshop, list all found weaknesses, classify them according to their severity and then prioritize them. Based on this, suggestions for improvement can be developed.
# Tools and Templates
For documentation: photo/video camera or sound recorder and/or screencast software
This method can be used at an early stage of development and offers less effort than an evaluation with representatives of the user group. A high degree of transparency is provided by the detailed description and the complete thinking through by an expert. In addition, suggestions for improvement can be easily derived. A cognitive walkthrough identifies problems that can occur during the first use of an interactive system.
The quality of the results strongly relies on the expertise of the usability expert and the problems found are not necessarily relevant for the real usage context. Even for an expert, it is difficult to evaluate the application from the user's point of view and to hide his previous knowledge. The Cognitive Walkthrough is more complex than the [heuristic evaluation] (heuristic-evaluation.html).
- Polson, P.G., Lewis, C., Rieman, J., Wharton, C. (1992) Cognitive walkthroughs: a method for theory-based evaluation of user interfaces In: International Journal of Man-Machine Studies archive, 36 (5), S. 741 – 773
- Lewis, C., Wharton C. (1997) Cognitive Walkthroughs In: Helander, M., Landauer, T. & Prabhu, P. (Hrsg.), Handbook of Human-Computer Interactions, 2. Auflage, Boulder: Elsevier Science B.V., S. 333-347
- Methodenhandbuch des Kompetenzzentrum Usability Mittelstand