I believe most UX designers understand the importance of conducting usability testing to evaluate a product. After all, it is the user who can provide insights that allow us to improve our interfaces.
However, it's not enough to simply schedule the test and recruit a group of people to test your product. Knowing how to prepare and conduct usability testing is essential to ensure that the collected information is relevant and free from any biases.
In this regard, we have compiled a list of 10 tips that will assist you in building your usability test. Check them out!
What is Usability Testing, and why is it important?
In UX Design, one of the most crucial concepts is User-Centered Design, which places the user at the center of perspectives and directs efforts toward improving their experience.
With this in mind, we should always be concerned about whether the User Journey is adequate and if the interface provides the desired experience.
Therefore, usability testing is a research method that allows designers to understand and identify potential improvement opportunities in products and UIs.
In this regard, the main objectives of usability testing are:
- Understand user behavior;
- Identify issues in the product;
- Discover improvement opportunities.
Developing a product that meets user expectations without usability testing becomes quite difficult—if not impossible. We cannot rely solely on our "common sense" because, at the end of the day, we are not our users.
Furthermore, usability tests can be implemented at low costs—depending on the type of test—and serve as an argument to justify any improvement or change in the project.
Therefore, to ensure that the developed UI is efficient and encompasses all variations of user behavior and logic, it is essential to use usability testing.
If you want to learn more about usability testing, read our article:
Tips for conducting your usability test
After understanding the importance of usability testing, it's worth mentioning that you should not underestimate the harm that a poorly conducted test can cause to the development of your project.
That's why we gathered some tips to help you make the most of the usability test with your users.
1) Plan the test and clearly define its objective
A successful test begins with thorough planning. Therefore, carefully plan your test by considering some fundamental questions, such as:
- Who will participate in the test?
- When will you conduct the test – considering the overall project schedule?
- How will you conduct the test – which tools will you use?
Furthermore, part of the planning process involves defining the test objective.
Specify what needs to be tested, avoiding overly generic objectives like "Evaluating User Experience."
Instead, provide specific details about the information you need to gather and the problem you aim to solve.
By having this information, you can effectively plan the scenarios and tasks that users will need to complete.
Do not underestimate the importance of planning; it significantly influences the success or failure of your test.
2) Have a clear understanding of your persona when recruiting participants
Recruiting the right participant profile is crucial to provide valuable insights for your project. If your usability test involves an existing product, recruitment becomes easier because you can invite users who are already using your product.
On the other hand, if you're working on a product launch, the recruitment phase needs special attention and might be a bit more challenging.
In this case, it's important that you have studied the persona of your product or service.
3) 5 users for usability testing is enough
The users of your interface are likely to exhibit similar behaviors. This is because they should align with the defined user persona of your product.
Therefore, the larger the number of users participating in the usability test, the less likely you are to learn something new about the user experience of your product.
This is because the learning curve tends to plateau around 9 users.
However, the ideal quantity for you to work with confidence is 5 users. With this number, you are likely to uncover 75% of usability issues with your interface. See the graph below:
Therefore, starting from the fifth user, you will begin to observe the same behaviors and issues repeatedly.
As a result, the number 5 will save you time and money during the usability testing process.
4) Create a clear and goal-oriented script
The script includes all the questions you will ask the participants during the usability test.
When writing the script, keep the objective in mind and direct the questions to achieve that objective.
In addition to the questions, also outline the expected user actions for each requested task.
Another important tip is to have a script sheet for each participant, containing their individual information. This way, the collected data becomes more organized, and you can better understand the flow and difficulties of each participant separately.
5) Record the usability test
Capturing the test session on video is a great way to analyze the user's behavior, their response to questions, and how they tackle the assigned tasks.
It also provides an opportunity to assess the facilitator's approach and identify areas for potential improvement in conducting the test.
Remember that during the test, the facilitator must remain neutral, refraining from influencing the participant. Both the questions asked and the facilitator's demeanor should remain unbiased.
Observing your interactions with the user while presenting questions and tasks can continuously enhance your ability to stay neutral.
Don't forget to obtain the participant's consent before recording the test session. It's important to respect their decision and refrain from recording if they decline.
6) Pay attention to how you formulate questions
Just as your behavior during the usability test needs to be free from influences, the questions you create should be too.
In this regard, create clear and concise questions that are also detailed and unbiased.
Adding more details often enhances question clarity: "Log in"; "Log in using your Gmail or Facebook email."
However, including too many details can influence the user's actions: "Now, use the search field located in the bottom right corner of the interface, next to the Logout button, and perform a product search"; "Now, search for a team jersey of your preference."
Pay attention that excessive details can lead to user actions that are not genuine. In the above example, the user would likely struggle to find the search field without the facilitator's instructions. Consequently, a usability issue would go unnoticed.
Therefore, writing the questions and actions for the usability test is a task that needs to be done and reviewed multiple times to eliminate all biases from the script.
7) Ask for simple tasks
In a usability test, we often need to assess the user's complete experience flow, whether it's a purchase journey or testing specific interface functionalities.
However, when assigning tasks to the user, it's beneficial to break down complex flows into simpler tasks.
Instead of asking the user to: Create a login, initiate a new project flow, and invite team members.
Break it down into smaller actions: Log in using your Google account. Start a project workflow. Invite team members via email.
This way, the user can complete the tasks without feeling overwhelmed or encountering as many uncertainties.
8) Test the test
You can run a pilot test with your team members to ensure the test is ready. This will help you gather insights that will improve your test script.
Also, be sure to familiarize yourself with the technologies that will be used in the test.
For example, if it's a remote test, make sure the programs you use are functioning properly and that you know how to manage them.
Of course, it's important to have a good understanding of the product that will be tested. Do your homework to avoid any difficulties during the actual test.
9) Don't forget to consider your budget
It's normal for you to want to use every method and tool available to get the most out of your user testing.
However, there's something that sets limitations: your budget.
It's rare to have all the funds you desire for a project. So, one of the first things you need to consider is the budget available for your usability test.
This will help you prioritize your resources wisely, finding the best cost-benefit balance.
10) A/B test is not a usability test
It's quite common to confuse usability testing with A/B testing. The main difference is that A/B testing focuses on binary questions to identify which version of a feature generates more conversions than the other.
On the other hand, usability testing analyzes user behavioral information and can identify other difficulties and issues with the interface.
Therefore, don't make the mistake of using A/B testing as a substitute for usability testing. These two types of research are not interchangeable; they complement each other.