Usability testing & research
Talking to customers is the cornerstone of UX design; you cannot do user-centred design without engaging users. It’s in the name! Over the years each member of How Might We have run hundreds of usability tests and ethnographic studies. Ranging from simple interface simulations to being a patient in a hospital.
Usability testing is the only tried and tested a way to find and fix user experience issues with your existing site or app. It’s also a great way to make sure that a prototype will meet user expectations – and be easy to use.
Firstly we will help you recruit the right customers. If you get the wrong kinds of customers to come in, you’re just wasting everyone’s time. So we’re quite particular about this bit.
We will recruit the customers for you, and make sure they show up at the right times.
Usability tests are one-to-one interviews, they are not focus groups. A HMW consultant will sit next to the user asking them to compleat tasks, watching what they do and where they get stuck. It’s all about observing what they do. For example, they can’t find the CHECKOUT button. We let them search for it for a while, and observe where they are looking for it. We ask them questions like, “What’s going on now?” to get them talking about what they’re doing. If they really can’t find the button, we’ll eventually show them where it is. Now the customer will probably say, “Oh there it is! They should make it red so that it stands out more.” We are really not interested in the fact that they think it should be red, we are interested that they couldn’t find the button. Customers can show us the problems but are rarely good at coming up with solutions.
We can run the tests at a hired venue or at your offices. If you have two rooms available and good internet, we can stream the feed from the testing room to viewing room where your team can watch live. The video is recorded but there is magic that happens when you spend the day watching the stream while talking and sketching and shouting: “I can’t BELIEVE he’s not seeing that button! It’s right there!”
Feedback from the usability test can happen in two ways. We can create a formal debrief document that lays out all the issues found. We clip the videos with the most impactful segments to emphasise the most important findings (watching a clip is far more effective than looking at bullet points). For each issue, we create precise, actionable recommendations for the short and long term. For key areas we make sketches showing how they might look. This document is great for involving stakeholders that were not able to watch the test, or if you are not able to make changes straight away and need a record of the findings.
The second option is to run a workshop immediately after the tests with the project team. We focus on the most pressing issues and come up with quick wins to make the experience better. This has a much faster turn around and closer involvement wiht the team.
We spend time with target customers in their own environments – doing interviews, taking pictures, or just hanging out with them to start understanding the complexity of their behaviour.
If we are not able to spend time with them in their spaces, we can still get their input through in-depth Interviews or diary studies. An in-depth interview is like a usability test, but it’s not about testing a concept, it’s about understanding their experience within the system they work or live. Uncovering their habits, issues and behaviours so when it comes time to solve the issues, we solve the right ones in the right way. A diary study runs over a few days, getting respondents to fill in a diary with tasks every day. For example, their experience every time they go to a petrol station or Google something on the internet. We then use that diary in the in-depth interview afterwards, to talk about their experiences.