Get the Usability Test Results You Need

Are your usability testing responses actually giving you the actionable information you need?

Not if you haven’t designed the right test!

In order to get the information you’re after, you need to determine:

1.  What you want to know

2.  What questions to ask to get the right answers

Figure Out the Usability Info You Need

Have you already identified problems with your platform? Are users routinely aborting at a specific point, or do you get a lot of queries about the same functions or processes? Then this first job is easy—you need to figure out what users are finding difficult, and possibly to test different options for making things easier.

If you’re beta testing or still in the early development phase, the information you’re after might be more general—how are various processes perceived, how quickly can users find what they need and accomplish specific tasks, what design elements are enhancing or inhibiting usability?

Get as specific as possible in identifying the information you need from your usability test, and you’ll make designing your test much easier while making the test far more effective, too.

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Improve Your Emails for Better Usability Test Responses

Conducting usability tests requires usability testers—a group of people that matches your ideal user as closely as possible in terms of demographics and knowledge level.

Identifying those potential testers can be tough (and we’ll have some tips on how to do that coming out shortly), but even after you know who they are there’s still an additional challenge: getting them to respond.

Here are a few tips for improving your usability test request emails, getting you a better response rate and more accurate, actionable results.

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Why you should always prototype & user test multiple designs

5,127. That’s the number of prototypes that James Dyson claims to have created trying to perfect his bagless vacuum cleaner. Five thousand, one hundred and twenty seven. You see designing stuff is a messy business. Some ideas work out, some don’t. It’s only through a certain amount of trial and error (or in James Dyson’s case, a lot of trial and error), that you end up with a great design. This is why it’s so important to always, always prototype and user test multiple designs.

Why prototype and user test multiple designs?

Here are 10 (yes 10!) good reasons why you can’t afford not to prototype and user test multiple designs.

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Demographics are Key to Unlocking Usability Test Returns

As explained in a previous post, finding usability testers who best represent the target users of your software or app is an essential first step in making sure your usability test delivers useful results. Finding testers with the right knowledge level and experience gives you far more accurate results, and the more specialized your target niche is the more important a well-matched group becomes.

Expertise is just one element of your usability group that needs to match your target audience, though. Demographics—age, culture, and in some cases gender and more—are also important considerations.

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The First Rule of Usability Testing: Test the Right Users

OK, so the real first rule of usability testing is, “do it.” But we can assume you already know that usability testing is important, and that you need to be doing it in order to make sure your apps and software are creating value for your users—and thus for you—as efficiently as possible.

Given that, the most important consideration when it comes to usability testing is making sure your testers can give you the information you need.

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The Power of Words in UX Research

It’s said that a picture paints a thousand words. But it’s also worth considering that a single word can evoke a powerful image. Consider, for example, what comes to mind when you encounter the word ‘gambling.’ Alternatively, consider the word ‘gaming.’ Likely, different mental images are triggered by each word. Every day, during the course of verbal and written discourse, people have a choice of words to pick from. And it turns out that which words are used can have a significant impact on how the message is received, or the question is interpreted.

Consider, for example, the following pairs of words:

  • Liberal v. progressive
  • Liquor v. spirits
  • Used v. pre-owned

Although the words in each pair are similar to each other, I suspect that each word in the pair brings to mind a slightly different mental image, along with a slightly different emotional response, as well.

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Usability test questions: does wording matter?

Interaction Designers have a tough job. Designing is hard work! It requires the ability to be simultaneously creative and analytical – not an easy thing. When I changed jobs from being an Interaction Designer to being a UX Researcher, I initially assumed I would escape the rigors of the design role. However, I quickly realized that to be a good researcher, I had to have good research design skills. To get good research outcomes, you need to design effective research studies.

I also realized that, just like in interaction design, there are multiple ways to design in order to achieve a given objective. Each design option has a set of tradeoffs – each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Indeed, I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a perfect design. But even so, a critical requirement of an effective research design is that it addresses and manages potential bias that can leak into a study and potentially skew or pollute research findings.

It’s important for UX researchers to be sensitive to the many ways that bias can affect a study, and to the extent possible, control for it. A key aspect of research design is how we craft the questions asked of research participants. It turns out that how we ask a question has critical implications for how a participant responds, and consequently, on research outcomes.

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6 common challenges in managing UX projects and how to overcome them

As of today, Ive been involved in Web and UX design for 12 years. The last three of them have been shared with my partners at Continuum, leading UX projects for a wide range of clients. Its impossible not to notice certain patterns on how user experience projects wind up, regardless of the scope, the team size or even the deadline and the budget.

These patterns, and the continuous iteration on how to better deal with them, have led us to identify some principles that pave the way to a better experience design. Well talk about them in a future post. But first, lets talk a bit about the most common problems we have faced when doing UX:

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