UX Research & User Testing

The Case for User Testing

Paul Boag

Paul Boag

UX Research & User Testing

Check out a free preview of the full UX Research & User Testing course

The "The Case for User 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 the case for user research and testing. He explains the benefits of conducting user research and testing for individuals, such as providing expertise, avoiding confrontation, and avoiding criticism. He also discusses the organizational benefits, such as risk management, accessibility, market fit, and faster time to market. He emphasizes the importance of tailoring the message to different stakeholders and proving the value of user research and testing over time.


Transcript from the "The Case for User Testing" Lesson

>> There are a set of principles that I wanna explore in kind of how I go about approaching lean user research and testing. And so let's take a moment to run through those, because I think those will be maybe quite encouraging for you. The first thing I wanna talk about is the case for user research and testing.

We know in our heads this stuff is important, right? But being able to articulate that with stakeholders and clients and people like that is a really important thing to be able to do. And also, to remind ourselves of how beneficial it can be for us personally, not for the user, right?

Let's forget the user for a minute. That's a great thing to say on a user research and testing workshop. But let's forget the user for a minute. We know that user research and testing will help them, but it will also help you in your job, and it will also help your company, or organization you're working with, and it will also help your colleagues.

First of all, what benefits does doing user research and testing have for you? Because I know a lot of the people that are watching this user research and testing is not your primary role. Your probably a developer, right? And as a developer, you think, I know user research and testing is important, but do I really want to be doing this?

Do I wanna take this on, on top of everything else? Well, there are a lot of good reasons to do it for a start, because of your knowledge and your expertise in the field of digital and in creating web apps and websites, you're actually very knowledgeable about what you do.

But does your stakeholders, your clients, and your managers realize how knowledgeable you are, right? In my experience, no. In my experience, other stakeholders think they know better, don't lie. So one of the huge benefits of doing a little bit of user research and a little bit of testing for you, is you get to be proved right, right?

You have some evidence to back up the expertise that you've already had. So that's one good reason to do it yourself, right? If there is something you want to put prove, there's a point you're trying to make to stakeholders and clients. Little bit of research, little bit of testing couldn't get rid of endless hours of arguing, or headbanging, or getting frustrated and swearing, right?

Might be just me that gets sweaty but there you go. The second reason that you want to pay attention to it, is a client or a stakeholder comes to me with a bad idea. Let's just go with that. And you see it's got you sitting there going, really, really?

Well, instead of getting into this argument with them where you're normally gonna lose, because normally that stakeholder or kind is more senior than you, and so therefore thinks automatically their idea is better. So instead of getting into an argument, just do a little bit of testing. Show them that their idea is bad, and that way you can avoid confrontation by just suggesting we test it.

So that's another reason. And the final reason for you to do it is to avoid criticism later, right? Testing is a great way of covering your ass, right? It's a great way of saying, well, we tested it, we went and checked it. So all of these are brilliant reasons for you personally to do a little bit of research and testing even when it's not primarily your job.

But there are also organizational benefit. And we need to talk about these things in the right way, because we use the right words, it tends to go much better. So let's go back to your bank, right? Bank is a big, established organization that's been around ages. So those kinds of organizations, they're all about maintaining the status quo, maintaining their position within the marketplace.

Also, there's a lot of compliance that's going on there, a lot of rules and regulations. So what you do is talk about risk management, right? They're terrified of risk. Don't wanna risk anything. Well, if we don't do our user research and testing, this could backfire. Accessibility, that's always a good one to go with.

Yeah, if we don't test it with people, it might be inaccessible. And then there would be a PR disaster, and we would get sued, right? Great way to talk with people like that. Another organizational who benefit for maybe the more startup side of things, the smaller hungrier organization, is market fit, right?

So in those situations, they're wanting to know they can outperform the competitors. That they can be more progressive, more disruptive in the industry. But the only way you know that is to do but if you have research and testing, right? Or the other thing that smaller organizations always wanna know is, they wanna get in there quick.

They wanna establish their market position. So actually user research and testing can reduce debate and the time spent on failed approaches and will get you to market faster than if you don't test, right? And that's a big claim that I'm making there, okay? I'm saying slowing down and doing user research and testing will get you to market faster than not doing it.

And I will prove that later, but for now I'll leave it hanging, right? So those are the organizational benefits, but organizations are made up of people, right? And people, he says, remember I'm older now, I've become old and cynical, right? People are selfish, even if something is the best thing for the organization, if it makes their lives difficult, they don't want to do it, right?

They don't want to get on. Well, I've got a deadline to me, and so your research and testing might mean I'm not gonna meet my deadline. I don't care that it's beneficial for the project or the user or the organization. It's gonna inconvenience me. So therefore, I don't wanna do it.

So you've gotta tailor your message to the different people you're talking about. So imagine you're talking to your finance team, right? The finance department. We don't have budget for testing. Well, you could talk about how research and testing reduces the chance of the project failing and going over budget, right?

So you can position it from a financial point of view that it provides financial benefit, clean up planning because you know how long something's gonna take, what's gonna be required, all of those kinds of things. And equally when you're talking maybe to say a sales and marketing team, you can talk about how research and testing will increase the chance that the service will succeed in the market place.

Or improve the conversion rate, or terms like that, the kinds of things that sales and marketing people care about. And equally when you're talking to developers, right? Which admittedly a lot of you guys are, research and testing is gonna re-streamline the development process and reduce wasted efforts, because they're not gonna ask you to build something and then ten minutes later turn around and go, now we've had a new idea.

Now, we want you to build this instead. Cuz it's based on data and real world stuff, rather than just what they made up on that particular moment in that particular day. So it can be hugely valuable. Again, getting to know how to present it right to stakeholders is a big part of this.

But it's also about proving the value over time, right? You cannot go and this is the biggest mistake I see all the time, right? I often help organizations establish UX teams within an organization that traditionally hasn't had a UX team. And what often happens is they hire a UX lead who goes in hell for leather and says, we need to be doing this and we need to be doing that and we need to be doing the other.

And immediately is butting up against the existing culture and the way people are thinking within the organization. And it's going to cost a lot of money it's going to cost a lot of time, it's gonna be disruptive, we don't wanna do any of that, right? What you're better off doing is proving the value by going in small to begin with and growing over time.

Carrying out small tests to show the value of user testing without delaying the project or costing money. And I'll show you ways to do that later. Very small, very simple to get it into the culture of the organization, get people used to doing it, and then you grow on that gradually over the time.

So once you've done one bit of testing on one project and the next project is easy to say, well, we did that one last time, let's do it again. But this time you make it a bit bigger, a bit more complete. Also, another great way of proving the value is to actually to involve stakeholders in the testing.

Don't just go away and do a bit of testing, but invite them try to watch usability testing if you do some of that. Or provide them at least a summary of the testing that was done and the results. And maybe talk to them about the results, or maybe discuss with them what the testing should be and how we should go about doing it.

We tend to exclude stakeholders from the process, because they just mess stuff up. [LAUGH] But, in truth, we're better off including them, because if we include them, then they begin to have a sense of ownership. If they've got a sense of ownership, then they're more likely to support the results of it, and get invested in it.

And then the final thing that I try and do to prove the value is communicate successes. So make sure that you put effort into promoting the benefits of your user research and testing through success stories. Include them in presentations, maybe start a newsletter sharing UX best practice in your organization.

Whatever opportunities you've got, start talking about how user testing helped things, right? And if possible, even try and associate $ value with the difference you've made, right? And a lot of that will be guesswork. You'll be making up figures, now don't actually make up stuff, I'm not advising that.

But make estimates and be open about the fact that you're making guesstimates, and people will come back and say, well, those are just guesstimates. Well, why don't we do some research and testing to find out how accurate these numbers are? So you can begin to build an interest and demonstrate the value of user experience over time.

So recognize that, if you wanna start introducing user testing and research into your organizations, with your clients and stuff like that, your job is gonna be as much about convincing them of the value as it is going to be doing the user research and testing.

Learn Straight from the Experts Who Shape the Modern Web

  • In-depth Courses
  • Industry Leading Experts
  • Learning Paths
  • Live Interactive Workshops
Get Unlimited Access Now