User Testing wins again

Thumbs down

I’ve always been a massive fan of user testing. That is, the process of testing something with an actual user, learning from it and then updating it based on the insights. Unfortunately, it always seems to get bumped due to time or budget. Recently I was lucky enough to organise some user testing for one of my projects. Although our wireframes were in Axure we wanted to also test a proposed design look and feel so we built a semi-functional HTML prototype of the proposed ‘optimisations’ to test against.

We recruited 6 participants from the target segment and individually got them to undertake a series of tasks using our prototype. 6 is considered to be a good number for user testing. Any less and you might be basing insights on individual opinions/anomalies rather than consistent user trends.

The testing was facilitated by a UX Architect who carefully phrased the questions and tasks as to not lead the user into a particular action. We were after the most genuine user responses as possible. Strategists and I were also in the room and, as to not intimidate the participants too much, we had to put the client and other staff in another viewing room (similar to a Homeland interrogation) viewing through one-way glass.

After three participants we could already start to see common behavioural trends. It was surprising to see how quickly users picked up certain UX and completely struggled or misunderstood things that we though were so obvious.

User testing highlighted the ROI of UX and provided some valuable insights that we will incorporate during the remaining project phases. Testing also reveals the user goals and how closely they are aligned to that of the business.

Moving forward I’ll be looking to prototype and test with users for every new digital experience I produce. If there isn’t budget or time to recruit or build a prototype i’ll just grab someone in the office who isn’t across the project and run it pass them. You don’t always need a prototype, simply asking the user to tell you what they want and what their expectation is can provide great insight.

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