February 1, 2015

Usability Testing Means Preparation

Recruiting the best participants and then having them follow tasks that make sense during a usability test takes precision. Proper steps need to be followed to line up users, have them show up and ultimately complete the test. This weeks readings stressed following a focused recruiting and usability test creation process. Even though I've conducted many usability sessions and followed similar steps, I found many ways for improvement this week. For example, when building tasks, you need to make they are clear, don't lead the user and make sure they flow.

The biggest lesson to remember with usability testing is preparation. Abraham Lincoln said if he had to cut down a tree, he would spend 80% of his time sharpening his axe. Usability testing is like cutting down a tree; you need to spend the time lining up the right recruits and building well defined tasks. Professionally I have created many screeners and tasks for usability tests. I think preparation is the secret ingredient to a successful test because if you skip time on recruiting or creating tasks your results suffer.

Here are the top five of usability recruiting tips I highlighted from Jared Spool.

1. Recruiting is easy if you keep track of the details.

2. No one will think you’re a pest for trying to recruit them. Most people like to participate.

3. All study participants should have the right motivation to help improve the design

4. Build a clear participant profile because it allows the recruiter to readily determine if a candidate qualifies

5. Schedule surrogates, people who meet some of your requirements, to uncover the major design flaws if difficult finding exact recruits.

If you are planning a usability test, think twice about the time needed to plan one and follow some of these tips.

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Marc A. Majers

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