If you want to know how and why users decide to use your product, or if your app or service addresses customers’ needs, it is a good idea to conduct the so-called user tests.

 

What are user tests?

User tests are individual meetings with users, during which they are asked to perform certain activities using a readymade product or a UX mockup.


Why is it worth to conduct user testing — key benefits

  • Fast way to gain knowledge on actual user needs through user tests on existing or competitive systems;
  • Fast way to evaluate product usability through tests in the context of established goals;
  • Fast way to verify business assumptions through testing and analysing value proposition;
  • Time saving during deployment—by iterating a prototype based on user tests, you avoid situations when, after several months of coding, it turns out that a product does not meet basic user expectations.

Optimize your product with user tests - Usability LAB

Optimize your product with user tests - Usability LAB

 

5 Tips regarding user testing that you should bear in mind:

 

1. Invite your team to observe your tests

Thanks to this, you’ll be able to understand the user better, as well as discuss any identified issues and together look for solutions in real-time.

As stated by Marty Cagan in his book “INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love”, this should also be used as an inspiration to develop your product—each meeting with the user provides a handful of new insights.


2. Introduce changes after one or two research sessions 

In the traditional approach, changes are implemented usually after the 5th meeting with the user. I encourage you to do that more often. 

Use the RITE (rapid iterative test and evaluation) method. This approach is also described by Cagan in his book—if you decide after one or two sessions with users that something needs to be changed, implement modifications so that you’re able to test them during subsequent meetings.

3. Write down your observation after the test is completed 

Making notes during user tests means that you lose the context or miss some crucial points. 

However, when the meeting with the user is over, spend some extra time on writing down your most important observations.

You can use Post-Its—one for each observation. Thanks to that, it will be easier to group and discuss priorities among the observers. 

 

4. User behaviour is far more important than declarations

User narration is worth listening to, as it provides the context—for instance, “I am looking for a black cocktail dress for a company Christmas Party”, but you should be careful not to jump to conclusions.

Sometimes users recommend certain changes or new functionalities, 

e.g. “there should be a filter or a subcategory for cocktail dresses, as it’s the time of the year when they’re extremely wanted.” 

Does that mean that a change in the entire process of filtering and cataloguing products is required? Not necessarily. Maybe a seasonal banner will do, especially when a user recommending the change is still perfectly able to easily achieve the goal of the test.  

 

5. Divide your observations/issues onto: critical, material, and slight

If you use Post-Its, try marking each severity with a different colour. 

This way, you’ll be able to quickly come up with an action plan and introduce any required changes.

 

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I have presented only a fraction of a much larger process, the aim of which is to utilize the user testing method.

I hope that these 5 Tips will encourage you and your team to conduct user tests of your product already at the lo-fi prototype stage.

I wish you many inspiring observations!

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