Methods > Gather Insights > Usability Testing

Usability Testing

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Purpose

Gain information from key questions, such as:

  • Can my target user use my product?
  • Can users navigate it successfully?
  • Does my experience make sense/is it a good experience?
  • Are there any big usability blockers?

Outcomes

  • Create a product that delivers an ideal experience.

Time

5 - 8 days

Participants

2 people

Difficulty

Medium
Tip: it will help to reach out to an expert for guidance on these methods.

Materials

Semi-functional prototype (medium fidelity)
Recording device (audio/video)
Camera, speciality cameras (talk to UR)
Release forms, note taking material, post its for synthesis

There are two main ways of conducting usability testing: in-person or remote. In-person testing allows you to observe behaviour and talk about different actions transpiring in the moment. They are therefore better for when you want to do a holistic test of “does my experience make sense?” Remote usability testing is great for ongoing testing and small test iterations “We want to know if it makes sense to this or this?”.

Detailed steps (in-person)

1. DEFINE
Define your topic for investigation (questions or assumptions).

2. RECRUIT
We will only cover recruiting for real time, conducted tests here. See our recruiting guide for more information.

3. SET IT UP
Schedule a testing session with each person. Have your tasks, equipment (recording etc) ready. Get any prototypes and products ready for testing. If remote, you will need time to build your test and your script, plan at least 2 days for that.

4. PLAN
Define the assumptions or questions you want to test. Build up a way for users to test those through tasks to complete or just have them walk through your product as is. For remote, not in real time, you will have to build out the full script. For usability a more detailed and planned script is required.

5. CONDUCT
For all usability testing you should be asking the participant to think out loud. This can be a challenge for first time participants but is an important part of usability testing. Guide them with hints such as ‘tell us what you are thinking now’ and ‘please share your thoughts as you are going through it, we want to hear how you make sense of this, your perspective is important for us’.

6. SYNTHESIZE
Debrief on the observations. With a full understanding of each participant’s experiences, synthesize all observations and create patterns over time to understand a blended (but not “normalized”) picture. Extract key findings: what did the user do well? What did they struggle with? Why? What was surprising or unexpected? What assumptions were confirmed? Use anomalies and edge cases to push your own product concept. Avoid confirmation bias by forcing yourself to move beyond your current product concept. Ensure your team is present for this.

7. COMMUNICATE
Create a concise summary document that highlights the key learnings and insights along with your recommendations for improvements.