Usability testing for beginners

Things beginners should learn (nay) know about Usability Testing in the startup environment.

Pramit Singhi
Oct 8 · 10 min read
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Part-1 of the series ‘Product For Beginners’

In this series, there will always be two sections:

Now I know, the ideal way is that I should have written about my test first and then my learning at the end. But the reason, for me to start this series was to maintain my notes/insights. If ever, you want to revisit the learning, you shouldn’t have to scroll/skip my test section. See different perspective, you are gonna see a lot of it in the coming series. That’s what makes us humane.

So, if you find something not appropriate or right, feel free to comment or correct me. The goal is to just have the best concise learnings around.

My Learning.

Usability testing is a kind of experiment performed on the target users for a crafted product to gain insights about the usability of the product from user’s perspective. Thus feedback from this helps to improve product experience. Ideally, should be done before a product is made available for all.

🤔 Why it is an experiment?

It is an experiment because it is used to test a hypothesis (hypothesis being the created product experience). As there is no one fix method, you get a chance to be very creative around the procedure to perform.

There are many methods to perform a usability testing. It can range from simple to complex. It depends on the kind of product, the insights required (targeted metrics) and targeted users.

For example:

PS: In a little exp in office, we figured 3 interpretations of the same line regarding a currency detail. Finally closed on one. But this exp surely helped me to understand which words to not use specifically.

✍🏻 What’s the ideal structure of process?

After presenting it to anyone, you can have heart-full discussions with PM, Designers and others about what should be the right solutions to implement.

📄 Good to have docs

There are certain documents which are always helpful for conducting a smooth Usability Testing

🕹 How to prepare the user?

The experiment with the user should always start on the time. Break the time given to a user into 3 segments:

During the buffer time basically between different users take a break; prepare the setup for new user; arrange the docs and remember your script. Keep the body language more receptive and not appear dominating at all. Make them comfortable around you.

📊 What are the insights?

When a product is created/ some feature is introduced/ or any change is made; there is a fundamental impact assumed because of it. We call it metrics (generally it’s quantified to tell you accurate measurements about how the process is functioning).

The insights are related to the metric which is to be improved. It’s connected because the tasks for the user are decided on the basis of metrics.

Therefore, insights are the results from the observations sheet obtained from the different tasks performances. These help to identify the user mind set with respect to the product experience.

Whatever be the method of exp, do not forget that the aim is to gain insights around the experience of the crafted product from the target user.

⏳ When should this be performed?

Ideally, this should always be performed before a product development starts. So that when a certain solution is crafted for the target users and the product is seem to expect the way it is working then you are get more affirmation about the solution. It helps:

But, if for some reason, not able to perform it before a launch due to the fact of “ launch-learn-iterate-repeat” proverb, well then include it anytime before the next phase release.

Please do not get this confused with UAT. The test performed after development is UAT (User Acceptance Testing) one of the last stages of the software development life cycle. It is performed after the software has been thoroughly tested. It has a totally different motive.

My Test.

When I started out, I had no knowledge as how to perform a usability testing. All I knew was what a Usability Testing is and heard about just one method where you set up camera in a room and observe a user performing the task. I found it very complex. I always felt people get conscious around the camera.

My project was on the Zoom eScooters (India’s first electric dock-less shared micro-mobility solution). The biggest challenge I felt was that to perform UT for a product which just didn’t has just a digital part but also an on-ground service. This was also my first project around Research, so I was equally motivated and afraid. But anyhow, I started.

⏱ Research for the Research

There is an infinite pool of content on UT available online from various sources (designers, design studios, research organizations). I was going through lots of content (articles, books, case studies and research papers) in a day around:

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Some personal notes about usability testing, structuring, parameters, how it affects eScooter etc.

In a learning phase like college all the reading seems right but when you are doing a project in a company, you can’t waste all of the time reading. Your task becomes figuring out the problems fast and start acting on solving them. I was worried because I was not getting any clear answer, lot’s of perspective to look into, afraid of not meeting timeline, project pressure.

Honestly, I couldn’t find any article which could satisfy all the questions and answer me how to proceed as a beginner for UT. My manager/mentor after seeing me all drowned into content and confusion passed me this tip: It’s actually better to fail fast than learn slowly.

🙌🏻 Meeting with a User Researcher

While I was struggling for a proper direction to plan the UT, my manager arranged a meeting for me with an experienced User Researcher, Sajal Khandelwal from Flipkart. Our conversation led to a few great points around planning a UT:

👟 Ready, Get-Set, Go

Now, I had a clear idea around structuring usability testing.

🕶 D-Day

The day when the users were called in and UT was performed. As the product caters to B2B and B2C, so users were from both the groups. Their tasks were almost similar but the second group had more features so the tasks were a little different.

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It was complete fun. Everyone should definitely try this once.

After this, I calculated insights related to the tasks and metrics in Excel and had a very insightful presentation with the stakeholders. Overall the product app experience was perfect whereas we improved mostly on the ground operations. We were able to provide an amazing product experience and Usability Testing helped to affirm us with the solution crafted.

I can’t share the data around the UT, but feel free to ping me to chat more on the doc templates, introduction script, different methods to try out etc.

I had a lot of fun learning while doing this activity and now I have been handling Usability Testing at Zoomcar. Personally, I have completed Usability Testing for more than 3 projects and every time I find something to improve either better method, more prepared docs.

I came out of my fear, confusion and doubts. I genuinely feel that talking about the problems you face helps you learn a lot, especially in the product/design field.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading this article and always remember this amazing quote :

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That’s what she said

Links for articles/books I went through

📜 Articles:

📚 Books:

There are lots of other articles out there that can help you, google it people!

Bootcamp

From idea to product, one pixel at a time.

Pramit Singhi

Written by

Product Designer turned Product Manager | www.pramitsinghi.com

Bootcamp

Bootcamp

The best resources for designers starting in Design, UX, and UI. Bootcamp is a new product publication from the team behind the UX Collective (http://uxdesign.cc). To submit your story: hello@uxdesign.cc

Pramit Singhi

Written by

Product Designer turned Product Manager | www.pramitsinghi.com

Bootcamp

Bootcamp

The best resources for designers starting in Design, UX, and UI. Bootcamp is a new product publication from the team behind the UX Collective (http://uxdesign.cc). To submit your story: hello@uxdesign.cc

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