Usability testing

Product - beSlick

User experience or UX testing is essential for developing any digital product roadmap. It highlights the improvements that need to be made to maximise conversions. In this process, we take you through the things to consider when running a usability testing session. 

1What is the aim of the testing?

Importance: Essential

What would you like to find out? For example: How easy it it is to sign up to your product? Whether they understand how to use a certain feature? Which new design has more favourable feedback?


1.1Compile a list of questions to ask

Importance: Essential

Try and ask open, non-leading questions e.g. 'Can you describe what you're looking at?' or 'How would you...'

Closed questions (ones which can be answered with yes or no) limit the information you can receive from the user.

There are some useful tips in these Nielsen Normal Group articles:

Questions to ask:

2How will you analyse the information collected?

Importance: Optional

This will link to the aim of the testing. A good idea is to organise the information around the main themes and pain points.

This article suggests a framework which breaks down the information by part of the system tested:

3Who do you want the participants to be?

Importance: Essential

Consider your product's target audience. Demographics, geographical location, background. Should they be current users of your product, users of competitor products, or people who have never heard of you before?

Are you looking to test with a certain segment of your users?

How many participants do you need?


3.1Where are you going to find them?

Importance: Essential

If they're current users, how will you find out which ones would be interested? Survey? Or approach specific users?

If not, do you have existing contacts for these people? If it's appropriate to interview strangers, think about where they might be - local cafes, libraries, shopping centres etc.

Other options include: LinkedIn (connections or groups), asking on Twitter (relevant hashtags help), using a market research company to find people.

Finding participants:

3.2Any remuneration?

Importance: Optional

You will always find more participants with an incentive! If money isn't appropriate or possible, consider a discount code to your product, a free gift or even a free lunch/coffee.

Also think about covering travel costs for the participant.

You may need to consider a budget for this step.


3.3Find your participants!

Importance: Essential

Keep a record of your participants and their details, including where you found them from.

Participant details:


Importance: Optional

This is linked to how you're going to find your participants.


Importance: Optional

Will the usability testing happen online or in person?

In your office? Their office? In the field e.g. building site, shop?

If you're paying for a specific venue, ensure to have this booked well in advance.



Importance: Optional

How long will the session take for each participant? How will you (and your participant) get to the physical location?

If you are booking participants in for specific times, ensure this is noted on an online calendar or paper schedule. Ensure that participants have all the information they need for the session (address, time, what to bring).



Importance: Optional

What do you need to take with you?

Think about what you'll need to capture the session especially. Will you use pen and paper? Dictaphone? Screen recording software? Video of whole session?

Laptop, charger, extension lead?
Water, snacks.



Importance: Optional

Who will be running the usability session?

It's good to have 2 people per session - one to run it and one to take notes. You and your colleagues can take it in turns to lead it.

Think about if it's appropriate for other colleagues to sit in on these sessions just as an observer. Sometimes seeing participants use the system in real life can make all the difference!

Who will run it?:

5Running the usability session itself

Importance: Optional

A short guide on how to structure the usability session.

5.1Introduce yourself and why you're doing this testing

Importance: Optional

Let the person know that there are no wrong answers - you're testing the system/design, not them! It might be useful later to mention that during the session you may need to interrupt them. You can say that this isn't because you're not interested, but because you only have a certain amount of time.

Also let them know how long the session will take and if you'll be recording them (check they agree to this).

5.2Ask your questions

Importance: Optional

Try and ask your questions as part of a conversation - your participant doesn't want to feel like they're being interviewed! If the conversation goes off track or you're time limited, you can gently interrupt them and bring them back towards what you want to find out.

It's helpful to check your understanding of the session by recapping what your participant just said on their words. This gives them the opportunity to correct you if you misunderstood, or to add extra information that they didn't think of before.

5.3Practice active listening & use silence

Importance: Optional

Active listening is where you focus on what the other person is saying, rather than anticipating what they might say, or thinking how you're going to ask your next question.

Silence can be a powerful tool in encouraging your participants to speak. People often don't like silence so will try to fill the space by elaborating on a previous point.

5.4At the end, ask if there's anything they want to add

Importance: Optional

Perhaps they have questions for you, or they want to mention something that you didn't ask them.

6Thank you/follow up

Importance: Optional

It's good to send a thank you message to participants to let them know you appreciate their time and feedback. If they have mentioned something in particular (a bug/new feature request) make a note of this and try to get back in contact when you have more information (bug is fixed, developing new feature).

7Analyse usability testing feedback

Importance: Essential

As mentioned above, compile the results into some key takeaways. There will be far more information than you can realistically deal with right now, but keep it all - any feedback is good feedback! It might be useful to prioritise the resulting areas to address. Things that stopped the user from completing an action should be analysed before areas where the user managed to do what they needed to, after some thought.

This article has an interesting approach about recording research 'nuggets':

Link to feedback:

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