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Usability Testing

Recently I ran a day of usability testing for a client’s native application. It wasn’t the first time I’d taken part in testing, but it was the first time I’d run the tests myself. It was fun and exhilarating. The first one of the day was also pretty scary; at least it was until it started. I’m already sold on the benefits of usability testing, but the experience reinforced my feelings about it.

I asked for feedback from my colleagues afterwards, and tried to think critically about how I’d done, and how I could do better next time. I think that I established a rapport with the participants quite well. I found it easy to find interests that we had in common, and to chat to them about those.

In terms of improvement for the next one: I need to stop being so helpful. Part of testing is letting the users struggle for a bit, to see where the problems and sticking points are. I was a little too eager to help or to ask questions about what they were doing. It’s okay to let it get a bit awkward. Also, my questions were sometimes a little too leading, or I would finish their answers for them. I need to watch that, and just be more patient.

The best bit

My biggest take-away from the day was the same as the other tests I’ve been involved with: how great it is for the clients. Seeing users with the app is a real eye-opener. They’re very good at showing you that things aren’t as obvious as you think (or at all), and at helping you realise that what’s important to you may not be the same thing that’s important to the user.

Running through the results with the client the week after the test was also great. Together we came up with a laundry list of changes that they could make to their app, and discussed prioritising them. On the one hand this could be seen as bad: lots of work to do. But the flip side is more important: lots of ways to improve the app, and make a real difference to the user experience. I can’t wait to run my next set of tests!