Discovery is the process whereby we actually get to see – discover – where we are being successful with our UX, and where adjustments need to be made. This is the point when we actually conduct the usability testing with participants.
Of upmost importance in usability testing is the need to set up an environment, and have it mirror what our participants see every day. Sometimes administrators hide features from a user based on their role, so in turn, our participants shouldn’t see anything they don’t normally have access to. Otherwise, it could cause confusion and affect the results of the usability test.
In addition to getting the environment right, I have a few methods to make sure the usability test runs smoothly. First, I log into the environment and go through the tasks. Then, I have a team member go through the tasks, too. I jot down any bugs we encounter along the way so I can fix them. I also gauge whether the tasks flow, are easy to understand, and can be completed in the time allotted for the usability test.
When the time arrives to meet with our first participant, I start by joining the online meeting room early. Once the participant arrives, I introduce myself and the team, then read the formal introduction from our script. It describes the project and gives them a rundown of the usability test. It also encourages the participant to think aloud and emphasizes there are no right or wrong answers.
At this point, I pause and ask the participant whether it’s okay to record the call. This way, I can take more detailed notes later. After receiving their consent, I share my screen, and let the participant take control of my mouse.
I start with the background questions. This is a great way to break the ice and learn more about the participant, including what websites they use, what a day at work looks like for them, and how they tend to problem solve.
The tasks come next, and as the participant goes through them, I flag the places where they run into trouble. If they aren’t able to complete a task after their third attempt, I mark the task as failed, and help them finish, thereby alleviating any undue stress. That said, some participants get really engaged! They want to see each task through and it can be really valuable to give them the room to do so. You can get some really great feedback from this experience!
It all ends with a short survey to capture the participant’s overall feelings and satisfaction with the product. This often helps to prioritize what to fix first.
After the session, I debrief with the rest of the team while the call’s still fresh in our minds. It’s exciting to hear everyone share something new they’ve discovered, recount the session from different angles, and uncover tiny nuances others might have missed on their own. I finish by sending a thank you to the participant for their time.
The remaining participants go through the same process, and one-by-one, the common themes start to emerge.
This blog is the third in a five-part series focusing on the journey UX designers must take with organizations as they work with stakeholders to ensure intuitive application interfaces and workflows are designed and implemented.