Five Tips for a Successful User Experience Test

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a user experience test related to software that I use on a regular basis. I decided to participate in some user experience testing that the provider that I use for my email newsletter was doing related to some new software and newsletter templates. This was part of a formal program and was a one on one user experience test.

I thought it was a mutually beneficial hour spent. If you as a software vendor can have the people who participate in your product testing leave the sessions feeling good about your product no matter what the results of the test were, you’ve accomplished something.

There were five things that I thought made the test successful from my perspective:

  1. What’s in it for me?

To address the “what’s in it for me” question, before signing up for the test they made it clear what the financial incentive was. Although not substantial it was a fair compensation for my time and since it was a topic I was interested in I signed up.

Once I was in the session there was substantial value add to me in the kinds of questions that were asked and they were directly applicable to my use of their product. It gave me an opportunity to really think about how I use the product and what I would look for in some of the changes being contemplated.

  1. Convenience Matters

Coincidently the test was being done at a location that was very close to my office. I probably would not have participated if it required substantial travel time. The physical surroundings were conducive to having a conversation about and using the product.

  1. Substantial product knowledge

The person who ran this one on one session was very knowledgeable about the current product, recent changes and the changes being tested. They could answer the questions I asked and were able to add information about the product usage that I didn’t know.

  1. Must know something about your business

In preparing for the session the test facilitator had taken a look at my current newsletters and use of the product and had a basic understanding of my business. She knew that certain features would or wouldn’t apply and had applicable examples prepared. A little bit of time preparation time was very helpful to the overall experience.

  1. Recording Technology

There was appropriate use of recording technology. With my permission the facilitator recorded the audio part of the whole conversation. Once we started using mobile technology they added video recording that could see exactly what was being done on the mobile device. The use of recording allowed the facilitator to focus on the conversation and observations and not focus on taking notes.

These five things were what made it a successful interaction from my perspective. I left the one hour session feeling that my time had been well invested. I also believe that the software vendor gained valuable feedback about their product.

When you are testing your new software for usability keep these five things in mind and your customers will leave the session feeling both like they are engaged as customers but also that they spent their time wisely.

— Paul —

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