7 Strategies for Effective User Testing
New products cost vast sums of money in research, design, time, and final production. You do not want to spend such resources on a product that flops at first launch for failing to meet user needs.
Failure at this stage will not only cost you money and time but product reputation as well. Launch after such a disastrous start will likely meet resistance and cause further losses.
To avoid false starts and launch a successful product, subject it to user testing at all stages to get end-user insights. It is a good idea to record these test sessions for later review. Together with your team, watch user test videos to evaluate user experience and improve product accordingly. Here are seven strategies for effective user testing.
1. In-house test tube sessions
Initial tests are best done on familiar grounds often at no extra cost. Conducting usability tests on internal non-development staff is cost-effective and convenient.
Using in-house test participants has advantages that include free space and sufficient time for comprehensive testing. Recruiting participants is easy because you are dealing with people known to you and who are part of the company.
In-house tests allow for more scope using a comprehensive test plan that focuses on tasks and workflows. Participants understand the importance of the exercise and treat it as such while submitting more detailed feedback.
The tasks you design for the tests should aim to generate specific results to prove efficient usability. The good thing about in-house participants is that you can use them a second time after a review of the prototype to confirm their input.
2. Listen and observe
You may also recruit from the public a select group of target participants for prototype testing. With this group, simply observe and listen with little or no talk, as this is not product promotion.
Assume that the test client has bought the product and is alone trying to use it for the first time. Do not try to explain anything or assist in any way other than introducing the product and inviting them to use it.
Ask the test client for permission to record their attempt at use. Video recording is more convenient than taking notes as it preserves the actual user experience and reaction.
Reviewing this content later also allows your team to understand firsthand what difficulties arose and the reaction. With everyone looking at the same thing together, it is easier to come up with suggestions for improvement based on consensus.
Prepare a report around this and sit with your team to do a deep analysis of it. You can take help from paper writing websites that provide instant assignment help for your technical projects.
3. Test timing
Popular thinking is to test a complete product shortly before launch. Testing at this stage with a full build product is futile and costly in time and money. Should you identify flaws during tests this late, correction will mean going back to start afresh.
It will also mean tweaking certain components on the production line and equipment if the new changes radically alter product design.
Start testing early with design mock-ups and partly functional prototypes. This is best done in-house where you can explain your concept and what you expect of participants.
Quality is not just about producing a good product. Your effort to improve the product for a better customer experience should be ongoing. Feedback will add to your ideas and help improve product design and functions. Let your tests start early and remain progressive at every major stage as you develop the product. Finally, subject prototype to external user testing to assess its usability in the actual world.
4. Set test objectives
At every stage of testing, it is important to prepare a script with clear objectives you hope to achieve. You are doing these tests to help you improve your design and to ensure the product will be successful in the market. Establish what feedback you want at every stage of testing and prepare relevant questions or tasks for action.
Whereas you have done sufficient research on product look and functions, it is vitally important to incorporate user experience or the UX factor. Therefore, set questions or tasks that bring out this experience when doing user testing in a way that will improve the product.
Remember that design is a dynamic process and thrives on multiple ideas and perspectives. Use open-ended questions that encourage detailed answers. Such answers will give you the bigger picture and guide your design process.
5. Test with expected users
For objective validation of your prototype, it is best to test with people that will use the product. This group understands what they need in a product and are therefore competent to point out design and function flaws objectively. They will be looking for efficiency, ease of use, compatibility with other support products, and anything else that they think makes their work easier.
To get the best opinion out of this group, focus on tasks with fewer questions. Observe and listen as they perform the given tasks noting problems they encounter and their general reactions.
This mode of testing gives you real-life experience and is good for design and function improvement. A pass here is a reliable validation of the product and an indication that it will be received well in the market.
6. Test for quality
To test for quality, you need to involve real users who know what standards to look for in a product. Understanding the actual users and working with them means that you will need a smaller sample group of say five participants to get a reliable representative test score.
Real users have actual user experience to base their opinion on and their concerns are mostly on overall product quality and usability.
Another advantage of using this small group is that you can have them directly interact with your design team for faster progress. The design team and this select user group can engage in idea sharing in open discussion to drive the process efficiently.
This may not solve all the sticky issues in one fell swoop but will guide your next action. Act on findings and submit them for more tests.
7. Do not influence testing
As much as the prototype is your baby, so to speak, try not to influence user opinion during tests. Be humble enough to accept criticism of your product because this will help you improve quality.
Imposing on user test participants may get you wrong answers out of politeness. Based on these guided responses, you will launch a product doomed to fail because you failed to listen.
True user experience and not your own biases should guide credible product testing for usability. Another important strategy is to anchor user testing in real-world requirements.
Figure out how your proposed technology will address global needs and how best to align your design and functions with this perspective. Consider every scenario in which your product will be used and test accordingly to meet the requirements.
For product developers, testing is one process you cannot afford to skip. Invest in testing just as you do in research and development if you hope to launch a winning product. User testing generates very useful data that can be used beyond production and help in product sustainability.
Michael Gorman is a UK-based, experienced freelance writer and proofreader working for an assignment writing help and other dissertation writing services that provide essays, thesis, and dissertation writing help to students.