UX Research & User Testing

Preparation for Usability Testing

Paul Boag

Paul Boag

UX Research & User Testing

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The "Preparation for Usability Testing" Lesson is part of the full, UX Research & User Testing course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Paul discusses preparation and scheduling for conducting usability testing, including. He covers topics such as the necessary equipment and environment for in-person testing, the importance of screen recording apps, and how to plan tasks and scenarios for testing. He also provides tips for facilitating the sessions, including making participants feel comfortable, emphasizing that the site is being tested and not the participant, and asking for permission to record the sessions.


Transcript from the "Preparation for Usability Testing" Lesson

>> Okay, so let's talk about the practicalities of doing usability testing, whether you're doing it remote usability testing in person facilitated non-facilitated. There's obviously some preparation that needs to be done. So I want to talk you through some of the preparation if you've done usability testing you have nobody else, yeah, you've done some.

So a little bit maybe yeah okay fair enough, so it it takes a bit of practice and you kind of find your way and and it's a difficult one in some ways this is obviously facilitated unfacilitated it's a different ball game but you kind of got you've got to do it your way, right?

Because obviously my personality is different to yours and different people do it in different ways. But there are some practicalities you need to consider, if you're going to do it in person, right, which probably you're not but for complete sake, I should probably include that If you can do it in person, you're gonna need a quiet private room.

There's nothing worse than doing usability testing in any kind of open planned office because it's very kind of makes participants very self-conscious and it's just horrible to do. You're gonna need an appropriate internet-enabled device. I know that sounds stupid, but it's amazing how often you don't check that the internet is working before it starts and it goes horribly wrong.

You'll need a clock or a watch so you can keep an eye on the time and don't take up too much people's time. All obvious stuff, but it's so easy to overlook this thing these things and you need the ability to take notes. On that regards, if you're going to do in-person usability testing, and if you don't have a good screen recording app, and I'm going to come on to that in just a second, well, I'll put it up now, screen recording app, then you might want a second person in there to actually take notes.

I mean, you could do things like feed it through to another room and have to wait mirrors, one way mirrors, and all that rubbish. But if you don't have the luxury of that kind of stuff, then just have a person sitting in the corner you point to them and say they're taking notes and then you can focus on actually facilitating this test.

But it's a lot easier if you've got a good screen recording app look back that I mentioned before, but because then you can just enjoy the session and it's all transcribed, and you can look back at it afterwards. Obviously, however you do it, you've got to plan your tasks and scenarios.

And so basically, the three pieces of advice I give around this kind of thing is you start by identifying to find the task you want users to test based on the questions you have, right? So if your question is I'm worried about the checkout process, right? Then you're going to start with a task which involves someone going through the checkout process, right?

So you need to know what those are, and what you're going. Gonna do is you're going to word those as tasks that people can complete. The second thing you've got to do is prioritize your tasks, as you probably won't get through every one of them, right? Oftentimes, people have far too many tasks, partly because they're afraid of running out of content, things to do with people.

But if you prioritize them, then you can have some nice to have ones if you get to them. But if you don't, it's not the end of the world kind of thing. And then the final thing that you need to do is transform those tasks into scenarios that a user has to complete.

So it's a lot easier. Let me give you a real example because your task might be make an appointment to see a skin therapist, right? That's the thing you want someone to do, but it works a lot better if you kind of word it as a scenario because then it's easier to avoid keywords that are in the interface, right.

So you're unhappy with your appearance, your skin lately and have decided to have a facial. You go to a website looking to book a time for a treatment. So I've managed to avoid the word skin therapist and the word appointment just but still communicated the essence of what's going on.

So that's by wording it as a scenario, it just makes it all a bit more A, people can associate with it more, and B, it allows you to reduce the amount of bias that you're introducing into your questions. The other thing is, so you basically take all of your tasks, you turn them all into scenarios like that, prioritize them, job done.

But it's worth preparing a bit of a welcome if you're gonna be doing a facilitated session, right? If you can do it in person, please offer them refreshments at the beginning. It's a really great way of relaxing people, making them feel appreciated. If you're doing it remotely, I normally make some self-deprecating joke or they're something else at the beginning to make them laugh and relax them, you need to find your own thing to do that, whatever works with you, but the aim is to relax people up front.

Then I always introduce myself and explain the session's agenda and how long it's gonna be, and I'll come on to that in a minute. And this next one is a really important one, emphasize that you're testing the site, not the participant. So there's no wrong answers. People get really nervous that like they're being tested in some way.

And yet there is a right way of doing it. And they'll say things like, am doing it right? And it's like well, yes, [LAUGH] whatever you're doing is, right. I also always ask them to think out loud. You say that they need to, you encourage them to in particular say what they're seeing.

Cuz you don't know what they're looking at, so I'm currently looking at the whatever. I asked them also to express what they're thinking and what they're trying to do. And also what they what they're gonna do next before they do it is often good as well. Six Just getting them talking out loud.

So if ever they go quiet, ask them what they're thinking to get them going again. Make it clear that you're not gonna get offended by anything negative they say. I again, reoccurring theme I've with me I lie, right? I regularly tell people that I wasn't in any way in four Involved in producing this, so you're not going to offend me in the slightest if you don't like it, it is useful.

It's a useful thing to do in that situation because a lot of people don't like to offend. Certainly in Britain, Americans might be different. I'm not making any judgments. Next up, ask for permission to record them and stress that the recordings aren't going to be used for any other purpose because again, people are worried about their privacy, etc.

So it's worth doing that. If you ever deal with any kind of vulnerable group that's particularly important. I did it once with, you kind of abused women that had escaped difficult home situations and stuff like that. And they're really, as you can imagine, very sensitive that their information of where they are now might in any way leak out.

So just bear things like that in mind. And let them know if any additional stakeholders are interested. Coders are gonna be observing from another room, right? Because that's a bit weird as well. It's a weird situation you got to do what you can to make people feel relaxed basically.

Of course, that's all facilitated if you're gonna be there. If you're not, then it's a bit of a different scenario.

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