Usability Testing 101

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  • Usability TESTINGS

    Usability Testing 101 2017-02-19

    Benot Meunier

  • Testing helps you develop designs that wont frustrate your users.

  • Why should you test?

    When it is easy for people to use a design, they are more likely to be happy, to spend money, and to be truly engaged with your design (and maybe even your organization).

    For other technology, it can mean fewer support calls, more forgiving customers, and longer, happier customer relationships.

  • Put together a design prototype, pick an interviewer, find users (participants), and find a place to watch them use the design.

  • What do you need?

    Its really simple. You don't need recording equipment, but you might want to take notes, so a clipboard can be handy. And you probably want an envelope or folder to hold materials like your paper prototype and questionnaires.

  • Test when you have an idea of what is going to go into the design or when something has changed.

  • When should you test?Testing is useful when:

    youre not sure what is frustrating about a design

    you have a question about how to design something

    there are arguments among the people on the team about the design direction

    you want to make sure what youre designing will work for the intended users

  • Usability testing answers questions about how and why people use your design.

  • Know why you are conducting a usability test.

    Usability tests can answer questions like these:

    How easily and successfully do people find what they are looking for?

    Where do people get lost as they navigate the design?

    How close does the design match how people think about what they are trying to do?

  • Start testing with a few users trying out the first versions of a prototyped design, one at a time.

  • who is needed to run a test?

    4 test participants If youre testing with types of users, find four people of each type. Youll be interviewing them one at a time.

    1 interviewer Make sure its not someone who designed what is being tested.

    1 helperSomeone to take notes and wrangle participants.

    Observers Everyone who contributes to design decisions should watch at least 2 users go through the test experience.

  • Test with what you have available. Test again when you have a version that appears to work. Test again when you have the final version.

  • What do you test?When you do your first usability test, you might want to practice on someone elses design. That way, you wont feel so bad when you test yours.

    Otherwise, you can test:

    mock-ups or early versions

    competitors products

    prototypes at various stages of completeness

    a nearly final version

  • People who are like your users are everywhere. Go to them.

  • where should you test?Choose a place where you can find people who would normally use your design:


    food courts


    farmers markets

    street fairs

    buses, planes, or train

    Use your imagination. Dont be afraid to ask a stranger for feedback on your design.

  • Follow these steps to run each session of a usability test.

  • What happens in a usability test?

    1. Introduce the session.

    Go over what will happen.

    Give interactions

    Give the participant the design.

    2. Watch the participant use the design.

    3. Listen for questions (dont answer them) and comments (write them down).

    4. When they are done, ask the participant to walk you through what they did and why.

    5. Thank the participant profusely.

  • Watch and listen. Dont teach. Dont help.

  • What is the role of the interviewer?

    As the interviewer, you guide the participant through the session, watch what she does, and take notes (if you can).

    Do not help the participant use the design. (Well, not until after you have learned what you need to learn.)

    Ask open-ended questions, like, How did that go? follow up with a statement like, Tell me about how youdid that. But not too often.

  • What for wrong turns, listen to questions, look for hesitations.

  • What should you look for?

    Did participants:

    ask for help with instructions or using the design?

    ask question? (If so, what questions?)

    make comments? (Again, note what they say.)

    take out reading glasses or lean way in?

    find their way through the design efficiently?

    have trouble mavin through the design, or make wrong turns on their way to doing what they wanted?

    seem confused, puzzled, or frustrated?

  • Review what you saw and heard. Tally the types of problems participants had.

  • What do you do with what you find out?

    Look at what parts of the design caused questions, comments, mistakes, or request for help.

    This should tell you what is confusing to users, what is unclear, and why. It should also tell you what might need instructions, messages, or a different label.


    Things you think are obvious often arent, text you thought explained something doesnt even get read, and generally

    speaking users do things they werent supposed to do. Even if the only user testing you ever do is asking some friends to use a site

    while you observe them, youll already be better for it.