Testing design concepts and user journeys with real people is a highly effect route towards successful design solutions. I've organised and moderated usability testing on several projects and have experience of running testing sessions both on client site and within 3rd party usability labs.
Whilst usability testing is established in many organisations as an integral part of an iterative design process, it can also be used very effectively as an initial assessment of an existing site in order to identify key usability issues.
Usability testing can be carried out in a variety of locations with a recent trend being to conduct the testing remotely so that the testing participant is seen using the website or application in their natural environment. Remote usability testing also helps in terms of making it quicker and more easy to book in a list of testing participants.
My personal preference is to conduct the testing in person where possible so that I can observe all the user's reactions to a given testing scenario and get a more intimate understanding of the user's reaction to a product both during the testing session as well as during more informal discussions once the task based test is complete.
My user testing experience can be summarised as follows:
- Organisation and management of onsite usability testing including the recruitment of test participants and recording tests to video.
- Usability testing in purpose built testing labs
- Creation of the moderators' guide
- Usability test moderation
- Selection and refinement of user tasks to be tested
- Creation of clickable prototypes representing key parts (or all) of a newly designed website or application
- Observation and note taking of user testing of sessions
- Production of design recommendations to address the key issues identified during testing sessions
- Leading post-test debrief meetings
I've found that getting client stakeholders and members of the project team to witness usability testing sessions as early as possible in the project life cycle to be extremely beneficial. With the Share:d insight that this brings all parties can usually more quickly grasp the importance of thinking through the core user journeys with usability at the front of mind which therefore also encourages the team to move forward as a more unified force.
This makes my role as a UX designer on a project far more straight forward and allows me to achieve an more effective result more quickly (i.e. less resistance to user centric design).
If you'd like to know more about my usability testing skills and experience please do get in touch.