Understanding HCI

Cognitive Walkthrough

What is Cognitive Walkthrough?

  • Cognitive Walkthrough is a expert analysis of a series of tasks.
  • Users are not needed
  • Expert puts themselves in users shoes and steps through the task sequence

Why Use it

Cognitive Walkthrough aims to look at how easy and obvious goals and actions are and to highlight areas of possible confusion

  1. Is it obvious what to do?
    1. Will people formulate the right goals? -
    2. Will they realise a goal has been achieved?
    3. Will they undertake inappropriate goals?
    4. Will they inadvertently kill off some higher or related goal?
  2. Is it obvious how to do it?
    1. Will people identify the correct actions?
    2. Will the action contribute to achieving the goal?
    3. Do actions match people’s goals?
    4. Are there physical difficulties performing actions?

What are goals, tasks and actions?

  • A Goal is something someone is trying to achieve - write a letter
  • A task is the sequence of activities required, used or believed to be necessary to achieve a goal using a particular device. Tasks may be split into sub-tasks. - Open New Document, Type letter
  • Actions - the physical interactions with a device - click on ‘new’ icon, select tab icon, move to right hand side, etc. etc.

Participants Needed


Several (3 or 4) experts are required.

Task List

  1. List out each action of the goal
  2. For each action that is shown, consider how easy is it for users to identify what to do and how to do it.
  3. Write these in using endnotes or differently formatted text.

Conditions required


  1. Cognitive Walkthrough for creating and linking a hotspot in dreamweaver
  2. Cognitive Walkthrough for Programming the VCR

Limitations Of method


Do a cognitive walkthrough for

  1. Logging off your computer