Facilitating Usability Testing

Usability Testing is paramount for validating assumptions and improving a product. Doing so early and often can fuel a development team’s efforts to create a clear and effective product. Usability testing can also clarify areas of uncertainty or feature choices by getting clear feedback from a source outside the team that isn’t knee-deep with all the intricacies of the product. While I have been fortunate enough to participate in a couple usability testing sessions in the past, I didn’t yet feel confident in leading one on my own. To help get up to speed I reached out to our UXperts to get some input on what I should be focusing on to make my next usability testing a success:

What are the most important things to keep in mind while facilitating Usability Testing?

Rachel Krause

<codeblocktest></codeblocktest>

I think the biggest thing to remember when facilitating usability tests is to not ask leading questions. It can be tempting to direct your users to the answer you’re looking for, but it can also be detrimental to the success of the product. Make sure you’re asking open-ended questions and prompting your users to think aloud while they’re making decisions. This way, you’ll get more honest feedback and your user won’t be stifled by a yes-or-no question. Also, remember that you’re testing the product, not the user! Make them feel comfortable and remind them that their answers are not wrong.

<codeblocktest></codeblocktest>

Cory Bielski

<codeblocktest></codeblocktest>

I believe another very important thing to remember while conducting user evaluations is to find creative ways to keep your users thinking aloud through every interaction. Whether it be movement of the mouse or tapping on a button, you can gain amazing insights into why the user is moving or motioning in the direction that they are and the reasons behind their actions. It is easy to let your users stop thinking aloud and to rely on you asking the questions or setting up scenarios, but this sometimes eliminates free exploration. Thinking aloud also provides you with many opportunities to take down direct quotes or paraphrases to relay back to your team or for them to hopefully witness if they are present. By creatively maintaining the think aloud method throughout your evaluations you will hear interesting thoughts that are often trapped in your users heads or thoughts that may seem small but are actually very important in directing your future design decisions.

<codeblocktest></codeblocktest>

Ken Otte

<codeblocktest></codeblocktest>

1. It's all about the user.
2. Make them feel comfortable.
3. Remind them it is not a "test", they can't fail.
4. We are learning from them, they are the experts.
5. Allow them to speak openly and freely.
6. Take breaks. Give them some space to think, feel, and react to the subject matter being tested.
7. Be time-sensitive. Try to start on time. Don't go over the time scheduled.
8. Be professional. Your interaction with them says a lot about your company, client and profession.

<codeblocktest></codeblocktest>

Tom Deitz

<codeblocktest></codeblocktest>

I think the most important thing to focus on while facilitating usability testing is first and foremost to do them, do them, do them. After that, helping the subject to feel at ease with the process by injecting some humor, making them feel like a person not a number, letting them know what to expect and maybe most importantly that they are not the ones being tested the software is. Finally I think allowing others — especially stakeholders and team members — to observe the testing so they can see for themselves the usability issues and understand how important they might be to fix. One important note on the last ideas that this observation should be done remotely so your subject does not feel overwhelmed and intimidated thus making them feel uneasy again. Happy Testing!

<codeblocktest></codeblocktest>

Do you have any tips or best practices that you think are important while facilitating usability testing?

Get your project started today

Get in Touch