Humans like to assume a lot of things, but assumptions are the mother of all..ah…I think you know the rest. It’s safe to say that you shouldn’t assume anything in life, especially in the world of technology. If you’re thinking about becoming a UX designer making assumptions is pretty much the worst thing you could do. In UX design it’s important to collect informative data to improve your products, but how? With user testing of course!

What is user testing?

User Testing is an important and necessary part of learning how your users works with your product. Just one test can reveal issues you may have missed which may lead to the loss of revenue or areas where users will struggle.

By conducting user tests you will understand how your users interact with your products, make necessary changes, and announce that your product truly is user-friendly. Once your users find it simple and intuitive to use your product you will see your conversion, user-satisfaction and revenue soar.

Before you test

If this is your first time conducting a user test check to see if your team, company, or client has some sort of process in place to ensure that the tests that you are running will populate industry quality data. No matter the process, here are 5 tips to ensure quality test results.

  1. Plan & be prepared
  2. Create your test
  3. Test your test
  4. Set up your space
  5. Remember the 3 C’s

Tip 1: Plan & be prepared

Anyone can throw a user test together but what is going to set your test apart is the planning you put into it. Ask yourself, and coworkers, these questions:

  • When will the test occur?
  • What will be tested?
  • How long will the test be?
  • Which group of users (target personas) will be tested?
  • Which test method will be used?

With the answers to these questions you can start building out your user test.

Tip 2: Create your test

Hypothesise, hypothesise, hypothesise! Nope this isn’t your school science class, this is a crucial step in creating your user test.

You should be creating your user test off of some previous data; team feedback, client analytics, user research, etc. From this data you should be able to create a list of the problems you want to test and you can hypothesise what you believe will happen when testing these problems.

Example:

Client Data: Logging in is taking on average 15 seconds.
Problem: Logging in to the application should take 1 second or less.

Hypothesis: Users have issues logging in because the network is slow.

Generate a hypothesis for each problem that you want to test and write them down so that you can reference them against your findings. With these hypotheses you can start generating a list of tasks, choose the software you want to use, and determine the format of your test.

Tip 3: Test your test

Before you test, do not guess, test your test and test again! Testing your test with coworkers and other people on your team will help you catch any problems and/or mistakes.

Review for:

    • Leading language
    • Awkward tasks
    • Grammatical mistakes
    • Technical product and assisting software issues

With your new findings you can refine your test before testing it with your users which will ultimately improve your test results.

Tip 4: Set up your test, the day before

The day before your user testing occurs make sure that you have everything that you need in working order.

Ensure that your testing space is fully setup with fully charged and functioning devices. If you are using any assisting software, like built-in audio and video recorders, check that all machines have the same version. Print any paperwork that the user may need to read over and sign, and print extras.

Also, create a cheat sheet! This cheat sheet is for you and should contain a script for you to read off with all the tasks that you will be assigning the users. Although this may not seem necessary, it will help you avoid any necessary interruptions during the test.

Tip 5: Remember the 3 C’s

You are testing people, not robots, and people have emotions. Some users may get frustrated, some may be nervous, and others may be really laid back. However you should always remain cool, calm, and collected.

By being in control of your own emotions you can run through the user test easily and be attentive to the data that your users are giving you. It will also help your group of users feel more at ease since it can be nerve wracking having someone breathing down your neck as you click around a screen.

This approach will also demonstrate to your group of users that you respect them, their time, and the testing that they are undergoing. Although you may feel like you are doing the user a favor by building a better product with this information, it’s important to remember that they are doing you a favor by sitting through the user test that you have created.

Besides being cool, calm, and collected you should also remember to be kind and understanding. If your users get stuck on a certain task or want to quit after too many failed attempts, it is important that you remain understanding and professional. Not everyone is tech-savvy and their failure to complete that task is important data to bring back to your team.

Presenting your findings

The work does not end after your last user walks out the door. You now must go through all your findings and put together a presentation to your team/company/client. Whatever your findings may be they will be important to share with others, and it will be just as important to show how you found your findings.

Try adding a traffic light system to your findings to show which issues are more severe than others, and remember to pull out any things with did work well too.

Conducting a user test should be fun and not stressful. By following these tips you will breeze through the user test, collect useful data, and blow your team away with your findings!

Image courtesy bottled_void


Chris Mears

Chris is co-founder of UXmentor.me. He has worked with clients such as the UK government, Just Eat & Which? with a focus on service design and transformation.