UX Research & User Testing

User Testing Audience & Principles

Paul Boag

Paul Boag

UX Research & User Testing

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The "User Testing Audience & Principles" 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 process of finding research participants for usability testing. He emphasizes that testing with six people is sufficient to catch a majority of problems in the application, and that usability testing can be done with anyone who has comparable ability. He also provides recommendations for tools that can be used for usability testing, including Hotjar, Microsoft Clarity, and various free tools. He concludes by encouraging learners to start incorporating usability testing into their work without waiting for permission or additional budget.


Transcript from the "User Testing Audience & Principles" Lesson

>> So, the big one is finding research participants. We've already talked about that as being a big problem, and I just wanna give you a very quick piece of advice, some quick advice around that. First of all, when testing usability, right, there is little point with testing more than six people, okay?

Because the number of problems found decreases dramatically beyond six people. You can see how it tails off based on research by the Nielsen Norman Group. So even if you just test with three people, you'll still catch 75% of the problems in the application, right? So you don't need big numbers.

And also, the other thing I would say is you can test with anybody who has got comparable ability. So when you're testing with usability, you can use pretty much anybody. You can use anybody who doesn't work for the company, that isn't aware of the product, friends and family are great.

The only exception is if you're aiming at people with specific needs, often like the very young or the very old, right? So old people start getting arthritis to get multi-control problems, vision problems, those kinds of things will affect usability. But for anybody in between those two extremes, you could use pretty much anybody, that's okay with usability testing.

Is it ideal? Is it best practice? No, is it pragmatic? Is it easier? Yes, so my advice is, when it comes to usability, you can use anybody. One objection you'll get is, well, those people aren't gonna understand the content on the website. And really, the big argument that I make here is that any content we publish online should be accessible to the widest possible audience, right?

Because you need to keep it easy to understand for lots of reasons. But you say, hang on a minute, this website is for pediatric nurses or, so yeah, it's got highly specialized. Well, yeah, obviously it's going to have some level of complexity and that's fine. But there are, it's good arguments to be made to make this as accessible to the widest possible range as possible.

For example, what if people are new to the sector? What if you're a newly graduated nurse, for example? Or what if English isn't your first language? Or maybe you have some kind of cognitive disability, like dyslexia? So really, making the content accessible to everybody, and at the lowest level you possibly can is better for everybody, because everybody can process the information faster.

So this argument that you will get of, you have to test with our exact audience is a little bit skewed, right? It is a valid point, but you can make an argument that actually, there is value of testing even if you don't have the exact audience. The only exception with this is aesthetics, right?

Testing how people feel about a design is harder and you will need to represent your audience more closely. Because my taste, right, as a gen x, middle aged white, heterosexual man from the UK is gonna be totally different from somebody else's aesthetic tastes, from a different culture, a different background, etc.

So in those kinds of situations, you do need to consider a whole range of things like culture, social groups, psychology, personal experience, trends, social economic factors, etc. But that's only when you're testing for the aesthetics, right? The visuals of a design, and maybe tone of voice as well with copy.

And in that situation, there are recruitment services that do an amazing job. So there are many testing tools that people can use. Which, will do the recruitment for you for as little as a dollar per person, right? Which really is pretty good. Or there's actually a service called Askable, which will recruit people for you for about the same price, bit more expensive, but they can use whatever platform you want, right?

So if your platform of choice for doing your user testing doesn't support recruiting people for you, you can just use Askable instead. One of the questions you often get asked is, what can't we use internal people? Internal testing, they call it, right? Internal testing does not work, people have got to good and understanding of the organization, they've got have a good understanding of the project.

But you can use friends and family, right? Because they're outside of the organization, and that's normally preferable to using employees, or user JSON people, right? If you use employees favor those that work regularly with users, so cuz you can say to them, well, okay, so you're an employee, but you know your audience, you you're working with them all the time, pretend you're one of them.

And you can, I guess beware bias if all else fails and you have to use employees, just be aware of those, the internal testers are gonna have a deeper understanding of the users and objectives. And the very final thing I wanna say in this kind of introductory segment is I recommend you be smart about your tools, right?

If you work for a larger organization, you will feel a tendency to get a grown-up user testing platform, right? And there are the big enterprise platforms like usertesting.com, Optimizely, things like that. But if you've already got those, great, they're good platforms. I'm not criticizing them, but if you are trying to get into usability testing in your organization, you will immediately hit a barrier, because these will go over a procurement threshold, you'll have to jump through a lot of hoops.

They're expensive, they're time consuming, you'll have to go out to tender. It'll be a nightmare, right? If you work for a small organization, these are too expensive, you don't wanna be paying for them anyway, right? So instead I would encourage you to use the tools you already have.

Chances are, if you're a reasonably big organization, you're probably already running something like Hotjar for example, which has got heat maps, it's got session recording, it's got surveys built into it. So there's a lot you can do with the tools you already have, you probably already got Google Analytics, right?

There's a lot that you can learn from looking at Google Analytics, and we'll come onto those kinds of things later. But then there are also loads of really great free tools out there, one that you've probably not heard of is Microsoft Clarity. And it's basic very similar to Hotjar, and I'll introduce you more to it later.

Amazing free tool, completely free for you to use, right? And you can store that on your site and you can get loads of great insights just like that, for no money whatsoever. And then there's also a lot of applications out there, they've got free plans that are great for getting started and trying it out and convincing people of it.

So there's Lyssna, which is great for quick tests, such as first-click test and 5-second test, they've got a free account. Maze, which is a great all round platform for a variety of user testing. Free account, UX Metrics, perfect for card sorting, free testing that information architecture based stuff.

Free account, Lookback, which is my preference for facilitated usability testing. It's not free, but it's not expensive, especially if you just want it for one month, but you do some usability testing. So there are loads of great tools out there that can make an enormous difference. And then the one I mentioned earlier, Pollfish, which is great for surveys.

And unless they do the recruitment for you, don't cost you a penny, right? So to kind of wrap up this section, I wanted to really kind of summarize what I've been driving at here, which is the getting started in usable user research doesn't have to be really time-consuming or really expensive, right?

That you don't need to wait for permission, you shouldn't go looking for sign off on this stuff, just start doing it. You get to make all kinds of decisions about how you do your job, right? Nobody tells you, well, maybe people do tell you how to code or design, but you've got a degree of freedom.

Well, just make a bit of usability testing and research a part of that. And you can achieve a huge amount without asking for extra budget or extra time. And that's what we're gonna get into as we go forward. And I wanna start with, well, let's look at upfront research and testing, and what we really need to do before we begin a project and what we can just dump or do in a different way later.

Before we move on to the next section, any questions so far about what we've covered? Cuz I've kind of shared a lot of theoretical stuff and a lot of, it might have left you with a lot of year buts. Yeah, that sounds great, Paul, but, any concerns, any questions, anything so far?

>> One of the things that I really liked about Working at General Mills was they had these one-way mirrors to look at how people would get attracted to food products. Cuz we were measuring is the Cheerios too high up and no one's looking at that, so that's why they don't buy it.

>> Yeah.
>> Because placement of the products on those shelves.
>> Yeah.
>> For kids, we put the sweet stuff down [LAUGH] on the bottom, right? And they're like, yeah, I want that.
>> Yeah, yeah, yeah.
>> [LAUGH] All the cinnamon rolls were sold really fast that way [LAUGH].

>> That kind of stuff is amazing, that's very much traditional usability testing is what they've done for years, with us one way mirror, and you can see what's going on, and you can ask questions, and those kinds of things. That's fallen out of favor a little bit in UX design because it's quite time-consuming and quite expensive, you have to have a special setup and all the rest of it.

But you can actually replicate quite a lot of that very cheaply and very quickly, so there's kind of two aspects. There's the aspects of talking to people and finding out what their preferences were. And then the other aspect of it is that watching people do stuff in a natural way, right?

So the watching people do stuff in a natural way, actually, there are a lot tools that can do that. So Hotjar is is one example, where it record sessions and you can watch those sessions back which is amazing. Then I mentioned Microsoft clarity a minute ago and that does exactly the same for free, right?

And also you can do things like filter them, so you could say, I only wanna see I want to watch people that have got really frustrated and have rage clicked. Or I wanna watch people that have tried to click on something that's not clickable, that's another big one, which is really good.

So that's the kind of observation side of things. Now, in terms of the kind of questioning side of things, you can absolutely still do what's called facilitated T-testing. You typically would do that with fewer people because it takes longer and is more more time-consuming and expensive. But another option if you wanna do more people, you could do something like surveying, which obviously in that case isn't a conversation as such, but you can get bigger numbers out there.

So it's all about getting the biggest bang for your buck, and it's what you wanna learn in that situation. Are you trying to learn whether somebody spots something or whether they are getting frustrated by something? Or are you looking to know their opinion about something? Cuz that will affect whichever way you go there, whether you watch session recordings, or whether you do interviews.

So it's about getting the balance and picking the right tool for the right job, which hopefully will come out more as we go through it

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