UX audit.io

7 steps of an effective user testing process

You are not your user, so stop behaving like you

- Rick, UXaudit.io
28th November 2017

A note, all fellow product designers, UX/CX designers and product owners should stick to their screens:
you are not your user
This will always remind you to try and empathize with your users. You are not always around with your users or your target audience so you design your product keeping in mind your user persona. Still, the product we create as user experience designer using different user persona created using extensive user research needs to be validated or tested by the actual users who are eventually going to use your product or service.

User testing is a culture which should be an integrated part of the product design and development cycle. User testing is done to evaluate the usability of the product or service you are offering and can be done at any step of the product development cycle, but as the saying goes:
fail early fail often
it is always more economical to test a product concept in the early design phase itself. The cost of change keeps on increasing as the product moves up the ladder in the product development cycle and hence the more the number of user tests one does in the design phase, more are the chances of launching an intuitive product which your target audience will love to use.

So, what are the ingredients of a user testing, how can it be done perfectly without spamming your users and most importantly without spending a lot of time, money and energy. Here I am highlighting the important elements of a usability testing process which can make a user testing a whole lot easier and insightful:
  1. Planning a user test

    test plan

    Take time out to create a test plan that would essentially lay the foundation of your user testing process. Create a master plan for once and keep on reusing it, may be in bits and pieces for all your product and features. While creating a user testing plan think about if you would like to moderate all your user tests or not. May be a combination of some moderated and un-moderated user tests could give a better picture as it has been observed that users behave one way in a moderated environment and another way in an un-moderated environment. One should also think about the kind of information he is willing to get out of user testing and should make a note of it which could act like KPI for user testing.

  2. Creating a test

    type of tests

    By this, I mean creating the test environment for the users. You could do a user testing with an interactive prototype as well as on paper sketches. The choice depends upon the kind of data you want to capture from a user test. Paper sketches can be quick and cheaper way of getting qualitative data whereas interactive prototypes can give you rich and insightful combination of both quantitative as well qualitative data.

    While creating a test make sure you include diversified type of user tests which could include: click test, choice test, navigation test, questionnaire and may some open-ended questions too in the end. Make sure you get some learnability tests to understand if the user is able to easily learn the behavior of the interface. No user test can be deemed fully completed without a learnability test.

  3. Publishing a test & finding volunteers

    finding volunteers to test

    Since now you have done all the hard work of planning and creating a user test, now is time you select the right medium to publish your test and finding people (from the target audience) to take those tests for you. You can throw out surveys or invite potential users to your office to take the test. You can also go and have a cup of coffee with your users and discussing your designs. You can get on a skype or webex call with potential or existing users and share screens to discuss designs and make notes of the feedback. Just make sure that you get all the required qualitative and quantitative data you are looking for.

    You can also do a user testing with experts who have years of experience in understanding user behavior. This will give you an idea of how the experts think of your product and cross match those with those from actual user data to get rich insights. If you have live apps & websites that you want to test, there are many tools in the market which could let you test and monitor mobile apps & websites like Google analytics, Hotjar, Mixpanel etc.

  4. Recording a test

    user videos

    Having a recording of a user test is like having a cherry on the cake. With user recording you can always go back and view how users interacted with your product and where did they got stuck, what were their pain points, what did they expected to see and so on. So, whenever you can record a user test, make sure you do it. Also, make sure you organize all your test recordings in a way that is easily accessible whenever you need it.

  5. Capturing the test data

    recording user data

    Not all user testing sessions can be recorded. Even in such a case we still need to capture efficiency, accuracy and user friendliness of our design. This can be achieved by capturing click data, time data, navigation flow data etc. By analyzing this data, actionable insights can be derived which will give you a good idea of what should be your next steps.

  6. Analyzing test data

    analyze user data

    Carefully analyze both qualitative and quantitative data. Word clouds can be a quick way of quantifying qualitative data. For quantitative data, not just look at the numbers but also consider other parameters like time taken, number of clicks required etc. You need to club a wide variety of data to get a holistic view of the user test.

  7. Finding ROI

    ROI on design

    Try and calculate the value that is being added to the design by going through the process of user testing. For instance, after user testing if one can conclude that the design is not understood by the users the way it is intended to be, then the ROI is all the cost of development and launching the untested design and then redesigning for doing the fixes. If you have a number, speak it. All the CEOs, CFOs, CMOs are widely interested in listening to numbers and you can grab all the attention you want from them by showcasing great ROI numbers. It saves a great deal of time and effort to do the fixes in the design phase itself and that is the ROI of making user testing an integral part of the design process.
There could be many more things apart from the ones listed above to make a more effective user testing process. But if you ensure to follow the above steps you can always create value for you, your project and your team. So let's sum it all in one single image for you:

ingredients of user testing process
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Thanks for your time and feel free to add your comments below and let me know your thoughts about this article.

Author: Rick from UXuadit.io


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