The “Before” Aspect of evaluation

September 30, 2006 at 12:44 pm 1 comment

Evaluation is often thought of as a “concluding” activity – something that is done once a programme or project is finished. But evaluation has its role “before” and “during” an activity. A recent experience highlighted for me the importance that evaluation can play in the “before” phase.

I have been involved in setting-up a pan-European e-learning platform and prior to its launch, we decided to test the platform with a select group of users. In the learning or communications field that would be a standard procedure – to pre-test material before it is used with its target audiences. But I am amazed at how many organisations don’t pre-test material – a “before” evaluation activity.

The feedback we received from the test users was incredibly informative – they identified issues that we did not even think about; access, usablity and broader issues on motivation and incentives for using the platform. User tests for online websites/platforms do not have to be complicated and costly – Jakob Nielsen, the specialist in this field explains well why usability is not necessarily expensive.

The “before” evaluation phase is much broader than simply pre-testing material. The establishment of baseline data (e.g. attitude levels on issues), the gathering of existing research on a subject, benchmarking with comparable projects and ensuring that a project’s objectives are clear and measurable are some of the components of this phase.


Entry filed under: Evaluation methodology, PR evaluation, Training evaluation.

A Post-Modern Tale on Evaluation Evaluation: to Prove or Improve?

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. The ultimate user test? « intelligent measurement  |  December 4, 2007 at 7:09 am

    […] an unusual experience in “testing” there facilities before public launch. As I’ve written about before, the aspect of evaluation prior to the launch of a project or activity is often overlooked – and […]


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