When running a user test there are many things to keep in mind to ensure that you walk away with the insights you set out for. We recommend tackling these five areas to design the best user test for your goals:
1. Have a goal in mind, what do you want to learn?
While a “Do you like this: yes or no” might be tempting to lead with, you want to have a clear learning objective with your test. This is not something you might directly ask your participant, either. If you are looking to learn how successful your onboarding flow is, you want to see where in the flow your participants are frustrated, confused or otherwise impeded from continuing. You won’t ask “Were you confused?” but you might ask how they would explain this to a colleague.
2. Identify (and recruit) the right test participants.
Sometimes you have a specific population you need to target, for example, maybe you need to test your product designs with coaches of elite athletes. In such a case it may be wise to source your own participants rather than find them from a user testing panel. Filtering your participants to a target segment, or a “look-alike” segment will get you results that are more authentic and actionable. Vempathy can help you with recruitment when you setup your UX test.
3. Limit the length of the test.
Just as important as having an objective you likely cannot ask a participant for 1 or 2 hours of testing. Limiting your test to five or less tasks can ensure that you have a clear focus and your test participants will complete the tasks you ask of them. IF there are too many, you risk disengaging your participants and this may affect the outcome of your test.
4. Set the stage and give clear instructions for each task, that aren’t leading.
You want to guide participants to navigate the test, but you also don’t want to be overly prescriptive on what to do. You are looking to learn how they use your product, you’re not telling them how to use it. Avoid “click here, then click here” type of task instructions, instead invite participants to accomplish something like “you’re looking to have a physical therapy appointment, find and make an appointment that fits in your schedule.” Instructive but not prescriptive.
5. Test with five to eight participants.
Research has shown that a minimum of five participants will give you sufficient feedback to take action. User experience researcher and professor Bob Virzi concluded that the first four or five participants find 80% of problems in a usability test and additional subjects are less likely to reveal new information. Additionally, he found that the most severe problems are more likely to be detected by the first few participants. The participants need to be of the right profile (see #2) and you won’t need more than seven or eight to start hearing similar points of feedback.