User testing is an irreplaceable tool to understand user experience and take decisions while doing design iterations. Here are a few guidelines to take the most of it.

See also:

  • Group Notetaking for User Research

  • Prepare the test:

    • Provide a mouse and a desktop keyboard because not everybody is comfortable with laptop keyboards and touchpads.
    • Prepare gifts for the participants. For example USB sticks, stickers, etc.
  • Welcome the tester:

    • Do a little icebreaker to present yourself, gather context information about the tester and make everybody at ease.
    • Explain the context of the user experience up to the point where the test starts.
    • Don't explain what you are going to test, nor its intended results.
    • Explain the methodology of the test:
      • Designers are not testing the tester but the product.
      • Designers will not answer the tester's questions.
      • Tester should speak out loud.
      • Tester should express their doubts.
      • Designers want to read the tester's mind.
  • Conduct the test:

    • Designers should be two people working in a team:

      • One interacting with the tester:
        • Presents the test.
        • Ask questions:
          • Always ask open questions.
          • Ask questions about past information (possibly after closing the screen).
        • Never answers to questions.
      • One taking notes:
        • Describe the tester.
        • What is the tester saying or experiencing.
        • What is the tester doing, step by step.
        • Do not interpret yet what's going on.
    • Debrief the test with the tester:

      • Global feeling
      • Go back to key points
      • Listen to ideas only to better understand problems
    • Doing multiple tests:

      • If testing different prototypes, alternate the order.
      • All tests after the first one will be biased.
      • Don't reuse testers to test the same design.
  • Debrief after each test:

    • Check notes.
    • List issues or points of interest from note taking:
    • Compact information.
    • Don't modify your design yet!
  • Interpret the results after all tests:

    • Sort issues by frequency.
    • Target the three most frequent issues in your next design iteration.