Tips to Improve User Testing

Designing for clients is no easy task. There are various factors to be considered, but user experience tops it all off. Design is centered not solely on what appeals to a user visually, but what kind of experience it creates.

Visual cues are more standardized and it’s easier to pin down what is visually appealing. It’s a matter of how elements work together. But user experience is harder to gauge because it is more subjective. Having understood this subjectivity, user testing came in to measure user experience.


What is User Testing?

User testing uses representatives of the target market to test a product and criticize it. As a designer, the most obvious mistake can easily be overlooked when you’ve been focusing too much on the details. Letting select target users experience your design firsthand sheds light on potential problems other users might encounter.

If you’re all set to make your designs and products better, get ready to take notes. We’ve dished out the best tips to improve user testing and make you a more efficient and effective UX designer:

Start Early

The earlier you test, the easier it is to make changes. Conducting user tests as soon as you can assure that revisions can be done on time.

Waiting for the final product can take a while. Don’t hesitate to test design mock-ups and semi-functional prototypes. Just make sure you let the user understand what is required. When conducting a test, have these questions as a guide:

What will we test?

Where will we test?                                                                                 

Whom will we test it on?

How will we test?

Outline Objectives

Be clear with your goals. Write down and assess what you need to know in the user test. The most important part of the goal setting process is to be clear on what you want to achieve. Make sure you only ask questions you need answered.

When creating questions, make sure you ask open-ended ones. Don’t settle with a yes/no reply. Probe for answers so you have a better idea of how you can improve your work. Alos, don’t dwell on rankings and general impressions. Instead, focus on the user experience as s/he scrolls through or uses your product. As UX Planet illustrates, these are the bad and better questions for user testing:

Bad: What do you think of our website? Out of the 10, how did you find the usability of the web service?

Better: Where would you click first when you land on homepage?

Test With Real Users

Don’t rely on convenient connections. Go beyond getting a friend or family member when conducting user tests. It’s important that the feedback you get are independent, unbiased, and honest so you’d know what really needs extra work on.

It’s even better if you get a user in a “worst case scenario” to test your product. Samples of these scenarios are users who know nothing about your product or who are distracted.This mimics a variety of real life situations where your app’s simplicity or clarity may be defined.

Observe More

You may be prepared with questions and you know what kind of results you need to get. But the main advantage of user testing is getting someone to interact with your product. More than the Q and A, it is the user interaction that matters more. Use questions to gain insight on user actions.

The best way to pick up cues from user interaction is to observe. Many UX designers make the mistake of focusing too heavily on asking questions. Observing users can uncover a lot more in a lot less time.

Test Often

A common misconception about testing is that it should only be conducted at the end of the design process. With every development in the design, and as with any project, testing should be done regularly. As long as you have enough resources at hand, it’s important to have user tests at every stage of the design process.

The issue of resources is often what hinders companies from conducting regular tests. Many fear it would be too expensive and would take too long. However, a NNGroup research found that testing with 5 users generally unveils 85% of usability problems. The earlier and the more often tests are done, the more polished your work will be for positive user experience.

Put The Team In

User testing shouldn’t solely be the designer’s concern. The whole team should be involved in the testing phase so everybody gets an idea about what needs to be worked on. Having all the team members aware of usability problems in the design also encourages team effort to find solutions.

Make the user testing stage a productive experience for the team. In case one of the team members is going to miss it, record the testing session with a video. This also helps in retaining valuable information that mere human memory can easily forget or overlook.

But don’t just rely on video record.Everyone present during the testing session should take notes about their observations. After the user testing, members can compare and summarize notes.

Fix One by One

When the testing stage reveals a lot of problems, don’t try to solve everything at once. It’s better to take incremental steps in improving your product through user testing. Fix the biggest or most important problems and then test again. The best testing is when you solve a problem to the best of your ability, send out the product, gather feedback and watch how it’s used, and then iterate accordingly.


Value of User Testing

It doesn’t lie at the end of the design process only. User testing is important at every stage of the design development. So, take time and be meticulous with user testing. If you have enough users pointing out problems as early and as often, you can make user-based changes before the final product.

At Project Assistant, we make sure tests are done throughout the development of a project. User feedback is what drives us to create quality outputs. Need to know more about user testing? We keep our work habits transparent and we’d be glad to share best user testing practices. Send us a message or comment below!

Annie Fantilanan

Annie can do it, whether it’s web development, quality assurance, or design. She’s basically everyone’s favorite little helper. Annie’s also a pro-data encoder and helps perform initial Quality Assurance tests for a project's design and graphics.

She’s also a thrill-seeker who’ll watch crime, detective, and horror movies alone. She scribbles letters when bored and spends time reading about development and design. But her real talent? She can sleep in any position.