Last Tuesday I gave a talk about user testing methods for research and design validation‚ The QA Testing Landscape: Companies and Software in 2017 and beyond. Thank you to all of you who were able to make it out. For those who weren't able to be there; here are the main takeaways that should help you in your user testing efforts.
1. Order Activities Intentionally
Get broad feedback first, through surveys and more generalized study, before iterating on designs and then testing more targeted use cases, scenarios, or user flows.
2. Test Together
Test with your team, friends and family first in order to make sure your prompts aren't confusing. Check spelling, and check that links and images load correctly.
3. Plan For Confusion
Users will not fully understand what you're asking them to do, they won't necessarily understand mock-up interfaces, or what placeholders are - so anticipate questions and be clear about what they are working with.
4. Recruit For The Research Purpose
What are your cognitive requirements? Look for people who have similar tasks that need to be completed. For example, if you need investment bankers that will be using the tool to organize their meetings, and track changing information coming in from multiple sources, you might find that it's easier to find users who share similar tasks but aren't a perfect surrogate of your users, like a business analyst.
5. Triangulate For Support
A common question that comes up is; "How many users do I need in my test?" Most sources tell you that 5 is an adequate number* depending on the test that you run. More importantly however, is if you run multiple, different, tests that can show data pointing in the same direction. That triangulation of results is a better indicator of truth that one test with many, many subjects.