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Method

Test prototypes with citizens to understand what works well and what needs improvement.

Purpose

  • To determine issues with usability of a product or service. 
  • To gain insights into what should be improved.
  • To validate that a solution solves the right problem.

What you get

  • Summary report of test feedback grouped by theme and ranked by issue severity.
  • Recommendations for changes to overcome identified issues.
  • Rich user feedback and quotes, usually in audio or video clips.

Strengths

  • A rigorous way of identifying what is working well and what needs improvement.
  • Can run with short notice. 
  • Can be built into an agile or iterative design process.

Weaknesses

  • Due to the simulated nature of testing, it is possible that real-world issues may be missed. 
  • Testing usually happens out of context for users, and so it may feel unnatural to them.
  • Unless using a live service or product, technical parts of the experience are difficult to simulate, such as speed. 

Tips

Recruitment is time consuming, and specialist recruitment agencies should be used wherever possible. This allows the design team to stay focused on the research and design tasks of the project.  

Tests should be held in a room with a one-way glass window so that observers can view testing from the next room. Alternatively the session should be shared by video conference link, or recorded for later viewing. 

Stakeholders should be encouraged to observe sessions. Observers should attend more than one session so that they understand many perspectives. 

Toolkits and resources

Selecting an online tool for unmoderated remote user testing
User Testing
User Testing: 5 tips to get you started

Reviewed 01 May 2020

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