Taken from unsplash — a photo by 
Hoach Le Dinh

5 solid steps to understanding usability testing

A crisp guide to dive quickly into usability testing and make the most of it.

1. Foundation

When you test a system you test it on certain principles, these principles help you ask the right questions — and these questions form a solid foundation for your tests to stand on.


Understand

Having a foundation will help you know what to look for. It will help you form an understanding about the eco-system you are testing and will guide you towards clarity.

Capture

When you know what you are looking for, what are the most important pieces, you become focused. Your questions will make sense and will help you capture the most important problems your users are facing, and hence making you confident to carry out the exercise in the right direction.

It’s simple, the quality of any answer will be directly proportional the quality of your question. Try to get to the core of your product start questioning things. You will find the most powerful questions to ask, and the answers will be equally powerful.

The problems won’t be obvious at first, but your knowledge, values and belief will guide you in discovering them.

2. Revelation

At this point you will have a set of questions. Make a list of them, filter those questions further down to the most important one, the ONE you think is critical in making your product successful, then work outwards.

Your questions are your goals. What is the outcome you want to achieve? — More conversions, more repeat users? Less drop offs?

Break down your user journey into smaller sets of tasks. Ask your users to complete a task and watch closely, are your users able to answer your questions?

For e.g make them go through a booking flow, where the task is to book a table for dinner, are they able to figure out how to select date and time? the important thing is to be specific here. A guided and focused task will reveal a lot.

BTW — lookback is a great tool to test your flows, check it out — https://marvelapp.com/user-testing/

(this is not sponsored in anyway by lookback, I genuinely love it.)

3. Articulate

Gather all your research, discuss among your peers and decide. What are the shortcomings in your current flow, where do you think users were stuck at? Pull out all the findings and go through them.

Arrange your findings in a user journey map. Recreate your user journey tasks on a white board and chalk out the problems encountered in each block.

Look out for patterns. Are majority of your users doing the same mistakes? Were most of them stuck at the same place? Try to answer those questions and come up with solutions for them.

4. Commit

Commit to your solutions, believe that those are the best choices you can make for your users, believe all of what you have done till now and move forward. The key is to keep refining the flow. Learn and iterate.

5. No solution is perfect

Keep in mind that no solution is perfect but with what you believe, what you have observed and researched you will have the best foot forward.

Be restless in your endeavours to find the best answers and you will ship kickass products!

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