Mistakes this week — 2

On usability testing

While having our bi-weekly sync-ups this week, my senior designer asked me how we have been doing our usability testing for my project.

For this project, my team and I are trying to develop a product to simplify and streamline a rather complicated compliance process for employees in the company. I have engaged the help of our user researcher to schedule some meetings with potential users of our product for one-on-one interviews. We would first ask them about their experience, difficulties they face with dealing with the current process, and then show them the MVP version of the product during the session itself, and ask them what they think about it.

There are two problems with this approach, which my senior kindly highlighted to me.

  1. Wrong interviewees.
    Currently our product is designed for users that are new to this process and are still trying to get their head around its complexity. But so far all the people we have been interviewing are experienced employees who are already used to the process. While there is value in talking to more experienced people who can point out the flaws in our design and content, but ultimately a usability test should be about testing how our intended target users would interact with the product. Which brings me to the second problem…
  2. We are only getting first impressions.
    A more important thing to find out is, does this product help them achieve their goals? And in the context of an interview like this where users are looking at the prototype for the first time, they would just be telling us what they are looking at and what they think about it on the spot. Perhaps it would be more useful if we could observe the users use this product in a real-life context and see whether it helps them achieve what they needed to do.

This is the first project that I am actively engaged in the user research process, and I am glad to be making such rookie issues so we can all learn and grow to be better designers. I’ll definitely be making more mistakes soon… just stay tuned.

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