10 Simple Tips to Improve User Testing

Testing is a fundamental part of the UX designer’s job and a core part of the overall UX design process. It’s a great way to eliminate problems or user difficulties that were unforeseen in the design phase.

1. Test As Early As You Can

The earlier you test, the easier it is to make changes and thus the greater impact the testing has on the eventual quality of the product.

Tips:

  • Don’t wait for a fully formed product— you can test design mock-ups and semi-functional prototypes (even low-fidelity ones) as long as you can explain to test participants what’s required from them. Once you’ve defined which user tasks should be tested, start validate your design.
  • You can embrace guerilla usability testing. When you have a prototype, step out of your office, find people who are at least similar to your target users and begin testing!

2. Outline Your Objectives For the Test

Be crystal clear on your goals. Make sure you only ask questions you need answered. Before starting user testing, you’ll need to ask yourself:

“What do I need to know from this test?”

and then, once you understand what you need to know, you can write your questionnaire or survey with that objective in mind.

3. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Closed questions have a limited choice of answers. These may be binary (yes/no) or multiple choice. Open-ended questions let you discover things you never thought of and let you learn the language of customers.

4. Treat Design as a Dynamic Process

A lot of designers think about the design process as a linear process which starts with user research, has a phase of prototyping, and ends up with testing. However, it should be treated as a dynamic process.

Regular user feedback should be at the heart of UX design process. 

Testing, as much as coding, designing or gathering requirements, requires its intended place in the iterative loop of product design and development. It’s important to have user tests at each interval of this process if the resources are available.

5. Test With Real Users

Validate your design based on tests with real users. Ensure you test with users who aren’t only your friends or family! You need independent and unbiased users.

Tip: When it comes to UX testing, sometimes it’s important to start with the idea of a user in your worst case scenario (e.g. someone who knows nothing about your product, is distracted when they onboard, etc). By watching that person use your product, you can quickly identify areas where the app is not simple or clear enough.

6. Focus Users On Tasks

When setting tasks for users, it’s tempting to ask what they think of your product or to ask them to score every element. However, it’s better to write tasks for users to attempt, so you capture in-the-moment, natural feedback at the point of interaction. For example, if you test a redesigned version of website’s homepage:

  • Bad: What do you think of our website? Out of the 10, how did you find the usability of the web service?
  • Better: Where would you click first when you land on homepage?

7. Observe Behavior

It’s important to mark the distinction between listening to users and observing users. While both methods will provide UX designers with valuable information, the mistake many UX designers make is to focus too heavily on listening. Observing users can uncover a lot more in a lot less time.

8. Engage The Whole Team In The Process

It is important to involve the whole product team in the testing event. Having the opportunity to observe the user will help the whole team understand the usability problems and to empathize with the user.

Tips:

  • If it’s impossible for all team members to join the testing session, you can record a video of the testing session and share it with your colleagues.
  • Everyone involved in a test should make notes and record what they feel they’ve learned. You want to take these notes and summarize them at the end of the day.

9. Think Quality, Not Quantity

Many companies don’t test their product at all or test them only after release because they fear it would be too expensive and would take too long. The truth is that testing don’t neet to be time consuming or expensive. NNGroup research found that:

Testing with 5 users generally unveils 85% of usability problems.

Thus, you can bring up to the group of users together and work with the one-on-one as they play with the prototype.

10. Don’t Try To Solve Everything At Once

It’s simply impossible to do that. Instead, fix the biggest (the most important) problems and then test again. The best testing is when you solve a problem to the best of your ability, ship the product, gather feedback and watch how it’s used, and then iterate accordingly.

Conclusion

Testing isn’t something you can afford to bypass, as even a simple round of testing could make or break your product idea. Thus,

Test early, test often