What is User Testing?
User Testing is a technique used in the design process to evaluate a product, feature or prototype with real users.
One of the main reasons to do this kind of testing is to identify friction in an experience so that it can be addressed before being built. Finding out pain points early on allows for a better experience to be built in the end.
Setting up a test
There are few things we do to set up a user test session.
- An interactive prototype of the feature we intend to build.
- A mission or plan for the test - this is the path that we think the user will take through the prototype
- A way to gather data from the test - analysing the data will be very important later
To get the best results from a user test we keep the following points in mind
- The test must be impartial with minimal guidance given
- The test must be documented somehow
- The test users should ideally be representative of the actual user base
- The results need to be examined to determine the recommendations that will come afterward
Testing can be done in several ways. Traditionally tests are done in person with someone observing the actions that the test users make. However, as technology advances, it's getting easier and easier to conduct remote testing where the user's actions are automatically documented in interesting ways.
At LiveStyled we do both forms of testing - and increasingly have been doing more remote testing because of the interesting way that data can be automatically gathered.
For remote testing, we use a combination of services to help us create prototypes and distribute them in a way that automatically collects data on user actions. InVision allows us to create a test version of a feature and distribute it. We then plug it into a great service called Maze that presents it to a user, alongside a mission to complete and then gathers data on user interaction that we can analyse later.
The great thing about user testing is that it can be done at any stage of the design process before a feature gets built. Throughout a product lifecycle, we test and iterate until we come up with the best solution possible.
Even the best designers, stakeholders, and developers in the world can't always for-see every possible interaction and reaction. User testing is vital in reducing risks, identifying bugs, reducing friction and even getting new ideas!
We try to incorporate some level of testing into everything we do. It helps to provide value to clients and to validate our work and ideas. User testing is a powerful tool. No matter how small or large your test group is - user testing should be an essential part of a product design workflow.