The following is a guest post by Cherryl Pereira, Head of Content at Chisel Labs
When it comes to usability testing, there are so many different things that can go wrong.
But don’t worry, with the tips and tricks in this article you’ll be able to train your team about usability testing.
You’ll learn how to run a test quickly and easily without any problems.
By the end of reading this blog post, you will have all the knowledge necessary for running an efficient usability study with your team.
What Is Usability Testing?
The Process of Conducting Usability Tests
Tips and Tricks To Train Other Team Members
What is usability testing?
Usability testing is a technique used to evaluate a product or service by testing it on users.
The general goal of this technique is to identify the usability problems in a system, so these issues can be addressed and improved upon.
The process of conducting usability tests
During the test, you have one person whose role is that of an observer while another performs specific tasks for which they will be evaluated.
To provide relevant feedback from your target audience, those who participate in our tests must fit within your demographic profile (i.e., age group, profession).
In its simplest form, usability testing involves showing participants how certain features work and asking them questions about their experience using various elements throughout the site (or app) under review.
It’s important to note that the person responsible for observing and taking notes during a test should not give any input or feedback, as their role is strictly informative.
Usability testing can also be used to:
– Evaluate your website design;
– Detect possible causes of errors;
– Understand how easy it is to use specific features (i.e., search function);
– Verify that instructions were understood correctly.
Based on these guidelines, we always recommend having at least two people present at all times: one who conducts the tests and another whose sole responsibility is observation and documentation of findings through video recording/notes/graphs, and so on. Depending on the type of project, it is also important to keep in mind that certain professionals are better suited for different roles.
For instance, if you’re testing a website or an app, then your choice should be between either an expert user (i.e., someone who’s very familiar with using this kind of software) or what we refer to as “naïve” users – individuals who have never used your product before but know how websites and apps generally work.
If you’ve decided on including naïve participants, however, don’t forget about providing them with some sort of introduction beforehand.
This way they’ll become familiarized with the platform/website being tested which will ultimately result in more accurate findings. Since their responses will not be influenced by prior experience.
What are some good ways to introduce your website/product? One way is telling them how you would expect a normal user of this product to use it, then giving an example or two that’s similar but not identical to the software being tested.
Another effective strategy is asking users if they have any prior experience with something like your product, and what they liked about those experiences as well as what they didn’t. This way their expectations will be better defined which can also result in more accurate results!
Another important aspect here has to do with choosing tasks for participants so make sure these are representative of real-life scenarios. They should mimic activities people usually perform when using apps/websites such as traveling online, searching for information on flights, finding a hotel, and booking it.
The tasks should also incorporate actions such as scrolling down, saving items to a wish list or cart, and so on.
Finally, usability testing is all about observing participants in their environment so make sure you don’t influence them too much by asking questions that might change the way they would perform certain activities on your site/app just because you want to get specific answers from them!
And remember: when planning for user tests try out different combinations of users (i.e., age groups), devices, and times — this will allow you to create an unbiased picture of how people use your product.
Tips and tricks to train other team members
The first steps to enlighten your audience are to define what usability testing is and how it benefits the product.
Be sure you know all about this topic before trying to explain it, otherwise, your audience will quickly fall asleep because of boredom or lack of interest. Include videos, images, and examples to illustrate the content.
This is not only a good way to explain usability testing but also makes it more comfortable for your audience as they can use their imagination while learning about something new (and might even remember it better).
Next, you need some tips and tricks: don’t make this part too long because people’s attention span gets very short when reading text on the web. Instead of giving them advice about what they should do or shouldn’t do during usability tests; teach everyone how to run those tests themselves!
So instead of writing “Take notes” as tip number one, try writing “Key things that happen in every test”. When all team members know exactly what happens in each session they will be able to execute these sessions with ease.
Also, it’s important to explain why you are doing usability tests in the first place. It might be because your design is too complicated or just to learn more about how users interact with certain features of your product.
If everyone knows this, they will also take notes during testing sessions that have a focus on these areas instead.
This way there is no need for an extra meeting where you go through all those results together – team members can do their work and share what they learned right after each session.
Then coming to explaining the process in usability testing, it’s best to start with something familiar. For example, if your team is used to doing A/B testing, you can explain that usability tests are sort of similar but instead of changing elements on a web page or in the app interface itself, they have an objective to test how easy certain features are for users.
Even though most teams already know about sessions being recorded (video and audio), there might be some concerns regarding privacy issues like whether testers’ voices will be heard by other colleagues who also work at the company building this product.
If so, make sure everyone agrees on what data is captured during these recordings and how it is handled afterward – only relevant results should ever go into reports.
Another topic worth explaining more deeply is moderating (recording and guiding) sessions. When done correctly, moderating is a great way to build your team’s confidence in usability testing as well as their understanding of the process itself.
Firstly, it gives them insight into users’ behavior and motivation behind certain actions/conversations; secondly – they get hands-on experience with these types of tests without having to be on either side (testing or building).
So how do you moderate? Just like any other activity that requires some practice before doing it live: prepare by practicing first.
If possible, ask one colleague from another department who has never been part of such activities so far to test out the tools and processes together with you until everyone feels confident enough about what needs to happen during sessions: who is doing what, where to find certain things and how long it takes.
Once you’re confident enough, start practicing on your own with colleagues who are less familiar with moderating usability studies. Just like in any other aspect of testing – the more often they practice together under supervision (but not too close!) the better.
Once everyone feels comfortable enough about beginners’ mistakes that can be made during test sessions (e.g. forgetting to ask permission before recording someone’s screen), go live with real participants.
You can pair up the participants and ask them to practice their tasks together. This is also a great way to save time since you can ask the participants to help each other out with certain test tasks (e.g. one of them will act as a tester while another person will be taking notes – so it’s like pair testing).
Do not forget about post-test interviews. Ask the participants if they feel comfortable enough answering a few questions after they’ve completed all of their assigned test tasks, and write down everything that pops up in your mind during these conversations – this might include suggestions for future improvements or interesting insights into how people perceive different designs, and so on.
By adopting these steps, the learning processes were made interesting and useful.
From explaining to putting the teaching into practice, all steps were taken to make sure that everyone understands how their product would be used by the end-user.
In doing so, it helps them understand what needs to get fixed and also allows for a more efficient workflow within your team. Hope this article has been helpful.
Cherryl Pereira is the Head of Content at Chisel. Chisel Labs is a premiere agile product management software company that brings together roadmapping, team alignment, and customer connection.