How to Conduct User Testing




“Testing involves yourself, your project team and your users rigorously testing the solution that has been created. This phase allows you to narrow down your solution to a finely tuned result” (Trobaugh, 2017).

User testing is a core part of human-centred design. It enables you to discover if your solution is fit-for-purpose.

How will you know that your solution is successful until you test it? 

For example, imagine that:

  • You create an eLearning course.
  • It meets the learning objectives.
  • It provides users with the skills that they require.
  • It meets the project goal.

This all sounds great, right?! Imagine that:

  • You conduct user testing.
  • None of the users can view the videos within the course because their computer software does not support it.
Your computer software enabled you to see the videos. So how would you know? 

User testing allows you to discover problems before your solution is released. It can save your project, your reputation and your users time (in others words, it is well worth it!).

Here is what we recommend to conduct user testing. 

1. Prepare a Prototype

Conduct user testing with a small, mock-up version of your final solution. Why? Well because your solution is likely to change. Spending too much time on your prototype leads to emotional attachment. In turn, your willingness to make changes decreases. 

Your prototype should be as close to the real thing as possible whilst not going overboard with details.

2. Invite Users

Invite to the user testing:

  • Yourself (as the project manager/instructional designer).
  • A support person/s (to help you facilitate the user testing process).
  • A sample of users. 
Tip

  • Do not over commit to testing with a large number of users. Work out what is possible for you and your team and what will add enough value to get the information that you need. Usually, 5 people will give a rounded experience.
3. Book in Time

Book in time to conduct your user testing. The amount of time that you book will depend on the nature of your prototype.

Our team gains the most value from conducting in-person user testing. This allows us to control the testing environment, answer questions and make observations (often crucial information👌). 

Tip

  • Conduct user testing in the environment where users will use your solution in the real world. For example, will your users be distracted while using your solution? This is useful information for you to know. You may design the solution differently in response to this. 
4. Ask Pre-Testing Questions

Ask anything that could impact the user testing results before testing starts.

For example, will users be using technology to access your solution?

Tip

  • Check in on your user’s state. For example, if they are feeling stressed or unwell, this may impact the testing results. 
Example Pre-Testing Questions

  • How much do you know about [your solution/goal]?
  • Are you comfortable with using [any technology/equipment needed for the prototype to work]?
5. Record Your Observations

Record your observations by documenting what you notice. You may want to raise these observations with your users at the end of testing to find out more.

If your users seem to spend a lot of time on one screen, there may be a reason why. For example, content on the screen is hard to digest and users get confused.

Example Observations
Tip

  • If your users ask for help during testing, do not help them. Allow them to fail. This failure will provide you with important information on how to improve your solution. 
6. Ask Post-Testing Questions

Ask your users questions immediately after the testing. This will ensure that you hear about your user’s experience while it is fresh in their minds.

This is your opportunity to question whether your solution met its purpose. Consider things like:

  • Was it easy to use?
  • Was the user engaged?
  • Did it meet its purpose?
Example Post-Testing Questions

  • From that experience, do you now feel confident that you can achieve [insert solution/goal]. Why/why not?
  • What did you find useful about the experience? Why?
  • What did you find challenging about the experience? Why?
  • Is there anything that you would improve? Why? How?
Tips

  • When you are asking your users questions, do not speak for them or make assumptions. Gain an understanding of what the user experienced in their own words. This will result in more accurate information. 
  • At the end of the questioning, ask if the user has anything else to add. They may have insightful information that is not elicited from your questioning. 
That is it for this blog on How to Conduct User Testing!

If you currently conduct user testing, go you! We hope that you have learnt something new.

If user testing is new to you, give it a go! User testing can provide you with valuable insights about your solution. It can help you launch a solution that works, meets your user’s needs and most importantly meets your project goal (boom👊!).

If you liked this blog and want to know more about user testing and human-centred design, check out and purchase our Human-centred Design Playbook for Instructional Designers and Learning and Development Practitioners.


References

Trobaugh, S. (2017). Design Thinking: Prototyping and Testing (Part 3). Retrieved from https://www.godfrey.com/insights/creative/make-ideas-great-with-protoyping-and-testing.


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