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How to conduct effective usability sessions to test the product rather than testing the user

Priyani Ahuja
April 7, 2022
Priyani Ahuja
How to conduct effective usability sessions to test the product rather than testing the user

Usability testing is a critical part of the product development process as it is always better to test the product rather than testing the user. While usability testing is important, it is surely not easy. Right from participant recruitment to conducting the test and synthesizing the information - every stage of usability testing can be time consuming. 

The remote world has made it even more challenging as now you need to interact with your participants, share design prototypes and collaborate with your team, virtually. But these challenges should not deter you from conducting effective usability testing to build great products. 

Here’s what you need to do at every stage of the usability test to effortlessly conduct a successful test that yields the best insights from your users.


Our secret sauce to cook up a usability storm:

1. Have clearly defined scenarios & tasks for the user before you start testing

First of all, clearly define your objective(s) and share it with your core team, so that everyone is on the same page. Now, comes the difficult part - recruiting users. Here we have got good news for you - for an effective usability test, 5 users are all you need to find 85% of the problem with your solution. 

As you identify your participants, based on your testing goal, it is important to define a list of scenarios and tasks to be tested. In order to comprehensively test your product, segregate these scenarios based on different user personas. Also, prepare and test drive your design prototypes to avoid any technical issues during the sessions.

2. Focus completely on the user doing the test

We understand on a virtual call, it is difficult to establish rapport that you can do in a face to face conversation. Thus, it becomes really important to build a rapport with the participant before diving into the usability test. Make them feel at ease, so they are comfortable in sharing real feedback. 

To help you keep the focus on the participant, ensure that the tech set-up is good. Avoid struggling between multiple tools, have a dedicated note taker to accompany you and try to reduce the number of installs/steps for the participant to get started. 

Another key aspect is to test the prototype in the right context. Ensure that you test your mobile prototypes on mobile and not desktop. Testing on the wrong device will produce unreliable results and will beat the whole purpose of conducting the usability test.

Finally, keep an open mind, actively listen and observe your participants so you can tweak your test and not stay fixed on your original test plan. Do remember that the quality of your insights will depend on the quality of your usability test session.

3. Summarize your observations and debrief the team immediately post-session

It always helps to quickly debrief your core team post the session, so you can compare notes, observe patterns and discuss differences as everything is fresh on your mind. It is always good to record the usability session and revisit it post session to quickly identify the 3-4 big insights that may have emerged.  If you can get hold of a tool that provides usability statistics and video clips, then it would be hugely beneficial. That way, you would be able to communicate the insights in the voice of the customer.

In a Nutshell

With a structured usability test process, we are certain that you will uncover quality insights. And, build the right product from the very start to delight your users. All you need to do is prep up, focus and quickly summarize your findings. Test right to build right.

We are keen to learn about your best practices for usability testing. Would love to hear from you, feel free to write to us at hello@betafi.co.

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