Before jumping into my usability tests I research a little more about how they are done and the importance of them. I know from my experience interning on the user experience team, that usability testing is a crucial part of the design process. This step gives the designer feed back on what is good and bad about their design. With this information the designer can come up with different solutions and design ideas, to develop and overall better design.
According to one of the articles that I read, Self-Education in UX and Working with User Research Data it is very important to observe the popular applications of the time. Daniel suggests, “Look for UX trends. What trends interest you today, and what will interest you tomorrow?” By thinking about these questions you will have a better sense of what direction to take you design in. For example, recently applications have been taking the flat, metro trend. I will most likely be taking my app in this direction. I also kept this in mind with my usability test to see if any of my testers would say that is something they would like to see.
In another article I read, Analysis, Plus Synthesis: Turning Data into Insights By Lindsay Ellerby, it is extremely important to ask questions. I noticed this a lot in my internship. A lot of times participants feel timid. It is very important to ask lots of questions to dig deep and find out what the tester is thinking. Also it is really important to encourage thinking out loud. This helps to understand what they expect everything to do, and to understand if your app is doing that for them.
The article also separated testing into five steps:
- Analysis + Synthesis
- Collect and organize the data: Make your data manageable.
- Mine the data: Identify what you see.
- Sort and cluster the data: Manipulate or reframe your data, as necessary.
- Identify insights: Discuss, articulate, incubate, and socialize your insights.
It is important to make sure to have a clean and clear way to express all of the data you collected and analyze this. I found that an excel spread sheet could be really usful for this.
On Wikipedia they emphasize the importance of connecting with the user. As a usability tester you have to empathize with the user. It says, “When investigating momentary user experiences, we can evaluate the level of positive affect, negative affect, joy, surprise, frustration, etc. “ It is really important to understand how your application makes them feel and why. It is then your job to analyze what can be done to change that feeling.
I also watched two videos to research a little more into usability testing. The first was titled Usability testing and it was a basic overview of what usability testing is and the importance that it holds. According to the video it is important to anything with an interface. There was also a huge emphasis on evolving users in earlier stages of the project. Not just the end. This is really important because you should be making changes throughout your design and designing for the user. The best way to do this is getting feedback at several stages of testing. The video also stressed the importance of recruiting testers that would use the product ask questions and encourage thinking out loud. This means that you should not find testers that have no connection to the application. The tester should be someone that would actually use the product.
The second video I watched was titled Example Usability Test with a Paper Prototype. This was a very well made video that I strongly recommend to anybody who has never usability tested before. This video is an example of a usability test for a children’s website. This is really useful video because you can see what kinds of questions you should ask and how you should ask them. It really helps to understand why questioning and thinking out loud are so beneficial to the designer. This is a great way to guide you’re tests around. I made sure to act similarly to this test as well as those I observed in my internship.
All of this research gave me a strong understanding of how testing should be done. After getting all of my testing materials prepared, I felt very confident conduction my tests.