A set of research methods that helps gather insights about a product and its performance by testing it with representative users.
User testing may take the form of an interview, but, unlike the user interview, its main focus is the product and not the user.
It can take place at various stages of the design process and different exercises will be used to gather insights about the different parts of the process: information architecture, wireframes and the UI design.
At Make it Clear, our research-led approach to design solutions helps our clients to understand the fundamental challenges and then improve engagement by implementing solutions that address these challenges.
Often employed at the beginning or end of a project, MiC user testing projects often involve a digital prototype and a list of tasks that a facilitator guides an existing or new user of the product or service to complete during the session. The test can then be used to identify the issues and opportunities that the prototype shows, meaning that amends can be made before it is officially launched.
Other research methods, such as user interviews can also be employed to investigate the user experience, but these are more based on questions and answers than testing activities. Focus groups or workshops are other qualitative methods that we use to gather information about a user’s experience of a product’s offering. Additional research methods include observational research, user testing or website usability testing.
UX research tasks:
- Focus groups
- Design sprints
Our testing process
Step 1: Definition
This stage of the project is focused on discovering or defining the objectives for the research or testing, establishing parameters, incentives and success criteria and gathering any existing data or documentation that Make it Clear may require as context. Identifying the metrics means that we can use them to identify success and compare them with previous metrics.
We start by hosting a kick off meeting to agree on the testing plan and process, either remotely or in person. We also confirm the key areas of interest for the research activity and identify any relevant client stakeholders.
- Define the objectives, parameters and success criteria for the testing
- Select the testing method
- Host kick off meeting to plan the activity
Step 2: Solution
After selecting the testing method, we identify relevant participants and agree on the recruitment method. Recruitment can be managed via a third party agency or by using the client’s contacts. Another option is to run a recruitment drive to uncover willing participants., for example, a short survey on a client’s website or posts on social media.
Regardless of the testing activity chosen, we start a project by reviewing any relevant data and existing documentation; writing a report on this review. The report may include an outline of the testing plan according to the agreed objectives, initiatives and process from the kick off meeting. Incentives, if relevant, may be suggested in the kick off meeting and included in this plan.
- Agree and initiate the recruitment process
- Review existing materials
- Report on review and outline the testing plan
Step 3: Implementation
The stage where the testing is completed; this involves either the client or MiC inviting participants to complete the sessions when they can. We write the script and outline the tasks that they should complete and in the order (if necessary). We create multiple scripts if there is more than one user type, and iterate this with the client.
The script should cover the key areas of the testing and is intended to act as a guide for conversation around the tasks. The user is asked to share their screen so that MiC can see them interacting with the prototype as they complete the tasks. At the end of each testing session, we ask the user for a rating of the prototype and to outline whether they would use it and what we could do to improve it.
These sessions take a more conversational approach than the script might imply, with the MiC research lead responding to responses naturally with appropriate questions, rather than following the script to the letter. Interviews are usually hosted over a two week period and need at least 45 minutes to complete enough tasks. The screen is usually recorded to capture the movements of the user in the prototype.
We recommend always completing at least 6 sessions for each user type, as this is more likely to get you enough of a varied response to provide valuable insights. After completing the testing sessions, MiC distributes incentives, if required, and reports on the themes discovered, presenting these to the client. Any recommendations for next steps are also outlined here.
- Write testing scripts
- Organise, manage and host sessions with users
- Report on findings and outline next steps
Step 4: Optimisation
In order to evaluate the improvements of any creative design solutions implemented after the UX research has identified the challenges of the user, we recommend carrying out post-project testing into the user experience. If testing is completed before and after (ideally the same type of testing) implementation then accurate success rates can be evaluated.
- Define objectives
- Consider post project UX research method