User Testing Process & Techniques

2 minute read


There are multiple ways of carrying out user testing. The following explains the process I took in establishing user testing as a part of an organisation's design process along with some practical examples.

Draft version of a recent high fidelity design

What I did


1. Obtain buy-in from stakeholders

The benefits of testing had to be communicated both internally and to external stakeholders. This enabled buy-in on both sides and allowed me to proceed with the task at hand.

2. Prioritise test items

Testing every interaction the product contains would have been impossible. I therefore met with the product owner and a couple of our in house testers to identify the most critical features/products to test. We then prioritised the ones we'd expose to users.

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A group of us (Product Owners, Testers and I) met and identified key areas of the products to test. The product owner then prioritised the test areas.

3. Test

Once this was arranged, I created goal based test cases for each prototype to be tested. We wanted to ensure that their common tasks could be done quickly and with clarity as these were two important design principles of our project.

It wasn't practical for us to do early stage testing in the actual user environments but observing such places gave my team members and I a heightened sense of the day to day challenges the users faced. We set the users up with their own monitor which we could view from our screen as it was important to make them feel as comfortable as possible.

Before and after each test I had some particular questions I wanted to ask each user. Interviewing someone is an art in itself. I find having a light hearted and loosely structured conversation to be most effective when trying to elicit a response from users. A relaxed atmosphere enables them to open up more about specific problems or struggles they may have.

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We set up a screenshare where we could watch the users complete tests while being less conscious of our presence (above left). Onsite research of where the users actually work (above right) was also done in a separate session.

4. Adjust where necessary

We then identified patterns in usage, documented our findings and adjusted the prototypes where necessary. Sometimes it made better sense to sketch out alternative designs with the users just after testing as a means of getting rapid feedback.

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Here's an example of two different layouts of the same information. A quick sketch like this allowed me to get feedback off some users when under a strict time constraint.

5. Test Again!

We then retested the areas we had question marks over in order to ensure things were on the right track. These were done on a remote basis using Invision prototypes. Below is an example of a prototype sent to a user group. Its always important to make sure the user knows what the purpose of the test is and how to engage with a prototype in order to obtain maximum feedback.

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An example of a prototype sent out to remote users. It was important that all users were familiar with what we were presenting them with and how they could provide feedback to us.

The iterations we made based on feedback has varied from product to product. Sometimes it was as simple as changing the text of a button or even that the testing would simply validate our thought process - a worthwhile task in itself. Other times it involved us completely rethinking the layout of a module.

All in all, its been a very worthwhile experience and is now an integral part of the company's design process.


What I learned