It can be challenging to get good feedback from your customers. User testing sometimes feels like a daunting and costly task. But the pay off is a better experience and therefore a better product.
So how and where do you start? I tested out a few approaches, some failed and some succeeded. Here’s what I learned.
Remote Vs Real-Life
I found that remotely works better, the reason for this is that when you ask someone to come in it feels very forced. It’s always at an inconvenient time, they don’t feel at ease and they’re more likely to tell you what you want to hear.
Using a service like usertesting.com is much more valuable, the person chooses when they want to do it, they can use their own device and most importantly, they can do it in the comfort of their own home. Because it’s a recorded video, it’s less confrontational and they might be less inclined to hold back on valuable feedback.
The only downside is that you can’t ask any extra follow up questions or go more in depth into a certain comment. Whenever something goes wrong, if there’s a bug or your prototype won’t load, then you can’t help them. Oppose to in person, you could restart the prototype or instruct them to start over again. Which brings us to the next topic.
Testing Mockups and Prototypes
It’s a great feeling to see someone use your new app or website for the first time. They’ll start exploring, clicking and tapping everywhere they can. But you won’t always have a fully working prototype. Especially if you want to test early to gather feedback before any developer writes any code.
Using Invision could be a good solution to quickly test out an idea, but this isn’t always a smooth process. Since they can only tap on certain areas, the experience is not quite the same as using a real app or website.
The solution here is either making a fully functional prototype or limited the tasks you’d like your testers to perform.
No matter what state your design is in, it’s never too early to test. Especially if you’re not sure if the feature is worth spending time on. Start by explaining your idea to someone else. Validate your idea before fully sweating out all the details or writing a single line of code. Ask your users if this is something they would use or if they think it’s helpful.
Choosing the Right Demographic
It’s important to figure out your demographic. Who are your customers? Are they youngsters living the fast paced city life or an older generation that needs more guidance? I’ve noticed that, although it might be interesting to hear from all types of users, the best results come from people that are potential customers. People who might have heard from your service, but never tried it. People who might be using a competitor. They can share some experiences or problems they might have ran into and like to see improved.
Use Real Life Scenarios
This seems to be the key to getting good feedback and a more accurate representation of what your customers would go through. Trying to get as close as the real thing is what you should aim for. You can do this by having them imagining a scenario. For example: “You’re hosting a party and want to order some beers.”
This helps the tester to think about what they would do in this scenario, keeping in mind all the different aspects of this scenario whilst testing. you can then set up tasks in the same scenario “Your friend asks you to order a specific brand of beer”.
It’s also helpful to ask a verbal response question after a task. Until we can read minds, we can only ask why they used a particular approach or what affected their behavior. But keep it short, try to keep your sessions between 15 – 20 min. So ask specific questions or create separate tests. Don’t forget you’ll have to view them too.
The Importance of User Testing
It can be painstaking to sit through these sessions or very frustrating when your idea fails miserably. But I’m often surprised by the results and learn a lot from watching real people using my designs.
It has made our products more user-centered and help create a more complete and immersive experience.