15 minutes per testing subject. Testing might take hours or days for the developer.
Prototypes to be tested
Any leaflet and other information about testing
Tools for recording and writing the data. This might include a camera.
What is this tool and what is its purpose and benefit?
The aim of usability testing is to test how easy and intuitive a service prototype is, and to find out what works and what needs to be improved. The prototype is usually tested with the end-users of the service. During the testing the end-users use the service as they would normally use it. The usability test can be repeated several times during the development process when prototypes are updated, upgraded and new prototype solutions are introduced.
Steps how to use this tool in practice
The same steps apply when working individually, in pairs or in a group.
Start by planning the testing in general: what is tested, how and why, by whom and how many, where and through which channels, and how much time testing should take. There should be a minimum 5-7, up to 20, usability test takers of different backgrounds. You can test users individually or in smaller groups in a workshop format. Testing can take place during one day or spread around many days. Usually time for one tester is 10-15 minutes, but it may be longer depending on the prototype. Test takers may have a lot to say after testing. You can organise coffee catering for testing subjects and think about small rewards to thank them for their time.
Usability testing can be conducted in a specific event, like a testing workshop, run by you as the moderator, or in a public place, the organisation’s environment where the testers are randomly passing users, or in the users’ own environment.
Plan the usability testing criteria and materials, such as questions, observation points, moderation process, prototypes, handouts, testing purpose information and any other elements including legal issues. The testing questions can be qualitative and quantitative. Specific questions can help those participants who have difficulties in expressing their opinions.
At the testing situation, start by explaining what the testing is about and give the testing material to the testers, but do not tell or give tips how the service works. Be specific on what you need from the testers. Testers should test use the service as it is and identify flaws of usability and also elements that work. They might also express their emotions when using the service.
Observe the testers while they use the prototype and record the observation data by writing or electronically, or both. Listen carefully, do not distract the participant or yourself. Ideally the testers should speak out loud about their experience during testing, especially when being observed individually. Observe and write down their intuitive comments such as “ where is…”, “this is not working…”, “I wish” and other expressions. You may also take photos of the testing situation, but in such a case, ask permission beforehand and also for publishing photos if this would be the case.
Have a short informal chat or interview with the testers about their impressions, thoughts and feelings after testing whilst everything is still fresh in their memory.
Write down the feedback, observation data and findings. Analyse the data and make a report of the development points and what works. Pass the findings and improvement report to development.
Usability testing is usually conducted several times at the introduction of updated or new solutions.
Tips and hints for using this tool
Usability of a service is often culture dependent due to habits and laws of another country.
Participants may still express their emotions and experiences when leaving the testing situation.
Stick to the time.