3 Tips for Usability Testing

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1: Use data, not opinions, to make design decisions

A usability study is for monitoring participants and collecting data, not for having an open forum on how the participant thinks the design can be improved. That’s not to say that opinions aren’t useful, but they are just one small piece of the puzzle. Opinions often involve generalities and are subjective to the participant.

Here are some examples:

  • “I don’t like the color.”
  • “The top section of the page doesn’t pop enough.”
  • “What if you moved this button to the right?”

 

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2: Test the design, not the participant

Before, during, and after usability testing, make sure to let the participant know that you are not concerned about their technical skill or familiarity with computers. The design is being graded, not them. Your responsibility as a study proctor is to make the participant comfortable and as stress-free as possible. Clearly communicate to them that any struggles they’re having is not their own deficiencies but instead a deficiency in the product. This will help to keep them from feeling embarrassed and potentially compromising the study results.

 

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3: Create scenarios from tasks

Arguably the most important part of performing usability studies is to create tasks for your participants to perform. When designing tasks, however, provide a scenario in order to help put your participants in the correct context. So instead of saying “Sort a table by dates then print it.” say something like “Your boss wants to see all entries from February. Print the table of entries for your boss.” This will put them in a state of mind closest to a real-life scenario instead of having them perform arbitrary tasks.

 

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Do you think your project can benefit from a usability study? (hint: it can!) Contact us to get the ball rolling!

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Phillip Dodson
Written by Phillip Dodson
Phillip is a Nielsen Norman Group Certified UI/UX consultant, instructor of UX at Loyola University New Orleans, and a recovering web developer.

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