100 User Experience (UX) Design and Evaluation Methods for Your Toolkit
This is the 23rd in a series of 100 short articles about UX design and evaluation methods. Today, I will discuss the RITE method for finding and fixing usability problems. The RITE method is a variation on traditional think-aloud usability testing where problems are fixed during the usability test phase and then retested to validate that the solutions improve usability.
The RITE method, because of the rapid find and fix approach, is potentially a better match for agile development than traditional usability testing.
Method 23 of 100: RITE Method
The RITE method is generally attributed to Microsoft® Games Studios and Microsoft Research. The RITE method uses representative users, real tasks, observation of participant interaction with the product, and thinking aloud. The primary differences between traditional usability testing and the RITE method (Medlock, Wixon, Terrano, Romero, & Fulton, 2002; Medlock, Wixon, McGee, & Welsh, 2005) are:
- Fixes are made as soon as a problem and clear solution to that problem are identified. An obvious problem with a clear solution might be fixed after a single participant.
- The product team must be able to fix problems quickly – say within a day.
- The team must agree on what tasks every user of the product must be able to perform to help set the priorities for problems that emerge during the testing.
- The product team must include time at the end of each testing day to make sure that fixes to problems have improved the usability of the system and have not introduced any new problems.
There is no fixed number of participants. Iterations often consist of 1 to 3 participants. The testing goes on until all fixes are verified to improve usability.
When to Use:
You can use the RITE method to:
- Find and fix problems quickly
- Support an agile process
- Involve the entire team in making the product usable
Strengths and Weaknesses:
+ Gets entire teams engaged in the find and fix cycle
+ Keeps decision-makers directly in the loop about the usability of the product
+ Provides rapid identification or problems and solutions
- Strong recruiting support is needed to keep a constant flow of participants
- Requires a strong team commitment to have the entire team go through the RITE process
- The software/UI architecture of the product or service may not easily allow quick changes
- Rare problems may not emerge during RITE testing
- If there are many problems and many fixes, some solutions might break the same or different parts of the product
The basic RITE procedure is:
- Get commitment from the product team and decision makers to observe test sessions.
- Get the team to agree to fix usability problems as they emerge from testing. Include time in the testing schedule to fix emergent problems.
- Define the metrics of success.
- Choose representative users, define key tasks, and develop the testing protocol.
- Conduct the test sessions using a think-aloud approach.
- Analyze the data after each session.
- Review the problems that emerge after a session.
- Brainstorm solutions to problems.
- Agree on the best solutions and fix problems. If the team is not sure that they understand the problem continue testing the current UI until the problem is clear.
- Retest fixes and validate that the fixes did not introduce any new usability problems.
Medlock, M.C., Wixon, D., McGee, M., & Welsh, D. (2005). The rapid iterative test and evaluation method: Better products in less Time. In Bias R., and Mayhew, D.J. (Eds.), Cost-justifying usability: An update for the Internet age (489-517). San Francisco, CA, USA: Morgan Kaufmann.
Medlock, M.C., Wixon, D., Terrano, M., Romero, R., & Fulton, B. (2002).Using the RITE method to improve products: A definition and a case study. Presented at the Usability Professionals’ Association, Orlando Florida.
Patton, J. (2008). Getting software RITE. Retrieved July 15, 2013 from http://www.agileproductdesign.com/writing/ieee/patton_getting_software_rite.pdf
Shirey, J., Charng, A., & Nguyen, Q. (2013). The RITE way to prototype. UX Magazine. Retrieved July 15, 2013 from http://uxmag.com/articles/the-rite-way-to-prototype
Sullivan, B. K. (2011). 5 ways to improve your next agile project with the RITE method. Retrieved July 15, 2013 from http://bigdesignevents.com/2011/08/5-ways-to-improve-your-next-agile-project-with-the-rite-method/