User testing is one of our core research techniques. Observing users while they are achieving tasks on a user interface (an app, a website, a prototype, a mock-up…) is one of the richest and most efficient qualitative method to identify and fix usability and UX issues, i.e., taxonomy, vocabulary, information hierarchy and accessibility, contrast, call-to-action affordance, conspicuousness.
Observing users while they are achieving tasks reveals most of the usability issues on the interface: inconsistent experience across the UI, missing information, bad information hierarchy, small fonts, low contrast, etc.. Observing and interviewing users make us understand the cognitive strategies they use to bypass the difficulties they have to cope with. Once you’ve identified the user’s difficulties on the interface and understood how they use their cognition to cope with such difficulties, you naturally understand how to improve things.
User testing also helps gain knowledge about your users: needs, habits, usage, preferences, satisfaction… All this additional knowledge help our clients offer experiences that match users’ expectations.
User testing can be carried out in a lab or remotely. Remote user testing makes the observation of users’ behaviors slightly more difficult. On the other hand, remote user testing makes it easier to recruit a sample widely spread in your market.
User Testing Principles
Successful user testing lays a few main components: the right sample of participants, an interface to be tested fitting the expected outcomes, a relevant interview script made to cover the relevant test scenarios, last, a good moderation.
Sample definition is in general relatively straightforward, as our clients who are the users of their UI. Our expertise lies in turning this target definition into a straightforward and simple though accurate screening questionnaires and help recruiters achieve a rigorous recruitment process through guidance, supervision and recruited profile controls.
In principle, user testing can be conducted on an existing UI as well as at any time of the UI design process. But the prototype or the interface to be tested have to be more and more accurate as you require more and more accurate results about the usability. If you are wondering if you have the right prototype to conduct a user test, please use the contact form and let’s discuss about your project.
Interview scripts are built so that all the topics our customers are wondering about will be tackled during the sessions with the participants. We then help our customers choose the relevant use cases and formulate the corresponding tasks so that the test participants will be able to achieve as much as possible with, starting with the minimum information.
Moderating the session is a question of cognitive empathy, experience and rigor. As we conducted thousands of user testing sessions over the past 20 years, we think that we are qualified. But, after all these years and sessions moderated, we continue to learn and question our methods and skills.
If you have questions or need a reliable partner for your next qualitative research project in France and Europe, please do get in contact with us.