In our latest explainer video, we’re walking through user testing. As Chris says in the video, User Testing may be “the most important phase” in development. What is it, and how do you do it successfully? Let’s jump in!
What is User Testing?
Chris: User testing is a technique that we use to explore and just see what the solution that we’ve designed, whether or not it will work in the real world. It’s a way for us just to gauge reaction to the solution or to the app or web app, or what have you, before we actually commit to building it,
Rachel: User testing is the part of the process where users are brought in some that have already seen and been part of initial conversations and designs and development sometimes. And some that are totally new and haven’t seen it before.
How do you conduct User Testing?
Chris: We like to conduct user testing one-on-one, where we’re dealing with just one person at a time. We’ve learned over the years that if you have multiple people involved in the user test, the strongest personality typically wins. We like to engage one-on-one and from the Slingshot side, we always do them in pairs.
So we always have one person that’s taking notes and then another person that’s leading the discussion. the reason for that is that we really want it to be a discussion and we want to interact with the user, get them thinking about what it is that we’re presenting to them, you know, get them in the right frame of mind. And it’s hard to do that if you’re also taking notes.
Rachel: I’m going to give you a secret hint. You want to make sure this is something that everybody understands well in advance and it’s scheduled well in advance. If you have to book a physical conference room and have people there, or if you just block calendars for the time, that’s really, really important. Getting everybody’s time and then letting them know what it is what’s expected out of them.
They’re going to have maybe a script or scenario. They’re going to walk through some cases it’s led by one person. In some cases, people do their own, and then they’re going to walk through scenarios you give them and they’re going to provide feedback.
What should you someone know about User Testing?
Chris: I think the most important thing is just planning it out upfront. So we always go in with a script and we generally go in with a prototype of the solution, or at least some pre designed screens, you know, they could be wireframes, they could be the full blown prototype, but we always go in with some visuals and a script.
We do that because we want to go in and show them, kind of simulate the real world with the real world app or what the solutions gonna be. And then we want to conduct those user tests in a similar way each time, because ultimately we’re looking for similarities between the test; things that people struggle with. We want to be able to pick up on trends, basically. Things that indicate that we need to make some adjustments.
Rachel: User testing is very important. You should capitalize very in that sentence, because we do all this development and production for the user. So if it’s not intuitive, if it’s not easy, if it doesn’t meet business requirements, then it could be like not good.
We always want to make sure the focus is on the user. We take their feedback very seriously, and we want to know their feedback from the session. It’s really important.
Why is User Testing important in the development and design process?
Chris: I think it’s the most important phase. It happens before development so it’s happening during the design phase, but it gives us a lot of comfort in whether or not we’ve nailed the design before committing to development. Because once you get into the development phase, it’s a whole lot more costly to change.
It gives us an opportunity to make all of those changes during the design phase. We’re much more likely to have success.
Rachel: We can have people sit around all day, come up with their own ideas of how they think they should work. But when people come together as a team, that’s when they really bring these ideas to life.
People really are important in user testing because the system and the components in it are important, but we can pick those blocks up and put them down all day long. We want to make sure that it’s something that’s going to be really useful and achieve the purpose that we agreed upon at the very beginning.