What is usability testing?
Usability testing is asking people to complete tasks and observing what happens.
Key elements of usability testing
- Make a plan. Write down the purpose, participants and tasks before your start. Sample one page usability testing plan.
- Recruit enough people. Don’t test with one or two people and call it done. Use at least five different people of different backgrounds. More thoughts on how many people to include.
- Choose tasks that people would actually think to complete. For example, on the CDS website, people don’t think “I want to use the job application function.” Instead, they’d think of themselves as “learning about what jobs CDS has available.” Task writing tips.
- While facilitating tests, be quiet. Ask participants to complete a task and then be silent. Don’t coach them or react to what they do. Focus on observing what’s easy and hard. Tips on what to say when people ask you questions.
- Look for patterns across participants. Don’t start making changes based on one participant. Fix what several people struggle with. Two possible tools for doing so:the rainbow spreadsheet and the rolling issues list.
- "How to conduct usability testing" from 18F
- "One page usability testing plan" from User Focus
- Thoughts on determining the right number of usability participants from UX Matters
- "Writing better usability testing tasks" from Nielsen Norman Group
- "Interview checklist" from 18F
- "Sample usability testing script" from 18F
- "What to say without saying anything" from Steve Krug
- "Instructions for usability test observers" from Steve Krug
- "Rainbow spreadsheet for analyzing results" from Tomer Sharon in Smashing Magazine
- "Rolling issues list for analyzing testing" from Dana Chisnell