User Testing

Author: Ally Eastman


One of the most important parts of understanding a user's experience - is testing this in real time and recording the user's path, actions, decisions and feedback.
In this blog, I will suggest a process to follow to ensure you optimise user testing. This includes the following points:
• Outline user tasks
• Create user stories
• Collect a variety of users
• Be aloof with directions
• Document actions and reactions
• Be generally open minded

Outline User Tasks
These can be created from different stories - think of a variety of minor to major processes and request the testers fulfill each of these. These stories could be suggested by the client of the product (who have an idea and purpose for the users). However, as a designer or developer, you should be able to create these tasks with your existing knowledge base.

Create User Stories
These are different scenarios that should be outlined before the website or product is created.

Collect a Variety of Users
Generally, for a smaller website or interface, you should have approximately 5 users participate in testing. This group should be a variety of age, gender, interests, careers etc. However, you should be testing with the intended target audience, as it is vital you are confident this group will understand the product.

Be Aloof with Directions
When directing a user, do not be incredibly specific with instructions unless it is necessary. If you are less direct, there is more likelihood that they are going to follow a task in a more personally inclined way.

Document Actions & Reactions
There are many methods with these processes. Generally, you want the most efficient process that is also quite coherent. You will get different feedback from when the post-testing, as the users ideas, thoughts and memories could have changed by then. It is important that you document the actions and reactions as they are happening. When doing user testing there is a scribe who records notes. It is up to the individual to decide what the best way to do this is. Personally, I would document notes on a laptop as I can type at 83 words per minute. As long as you feel as though your note taking is not too distracting or intrusive for the testing users.

Be generally open minded
When guiding testers don’t be too pushy or bossy. Keep an open mind and be patient - after all your testers are doing you a huge favour, so be respectful and professional.