User Research Techniques: Expert Review

The World Has No Experts

The World Has No Experts (Photo credit: Chris Pirillo)

What is an expert review?

An expert review is a usability technique of asking a third-party, highly trained usability researcher or professional to review a process in your project to identify common issues and suggest remedies.

Why should I conduct an expert review?

Expert reviews are a good technique for getting stakeholders to see the need for user research. Expert reviews typically better serve as a starting point for internal research.  Expert reviews are usually reasonably priced and very quick.

How do I find someone to conduct an expert review?

Social media sites are the easiest way to connect with a usability expert. It is fairly easy to find nearby research agencies that can also offer a review or consultation. You can also look for authors of user research books, as most often engage in expert reviews.

It is important when conducting an expert review to allow a third-party, not someone internal, to conduct the review. This is especially important when the purpose of the expert review is to illuminate the need for user research.

What are the limits of expert review?

While the expert won’t have content expertise and won’t be able to speak to your target audience, they have years of experience conducting usability testing and similar user research techniques and have seen many patterns emerge in their experience. All that said, the most common use case for an expert review is to correct common issues and then use the process as a starting point for internal research.

Expert reviews are similar to, but different from, heuristic evaluation. In a heuristic evaluation, internal staff uses a checklist, where an expert review involves a third-party directly. Heuristic evaluations are more effective in identifying usability issues, but don’t carry the same convincing quality.