You have brainstormed your objectives, chosen your participants, designed your test, and conducted a run-thr0ugh. The day of your actual test has finally arrived. Soon you will have all the data about the usefulness of your website you can handle.
Giving The Test
- Welcome – Be sure to make everyone feel at ease. Also make sure they understand that you are testing your website, and not them. This will help them relax and make their experience much better. Also be sure to thank them for agreeing to participate.
- Agenda – This will give a quick overview to your subjects of what they can expect from the day. Let them know what will be expected of them, what your role will be, and how long the process will take.
- Waiver/Demographic Questions – Have the test subjects fill out the waiver form, and answer the questions about demographics. You can either give them a form, or ask them individually and fill the form out yourself.
- Task Based Questions – Have the computers already open to the home page of your website. Now you will instruct your testers to perform certain tasks on your site. Encourage them to think out loud, and talk through what they see. You want to ask them questions about their thought processes and how they are making decisions without being leading or intruding. This is why the pre-test is so important. Make sure to take notes during this time as well.
- Exit Questions – Once the user finishes the test, hand them the exit questions for them to complete. This is also a great time to talk with them informally about their experience. Ask them what they liked/disliked about the site, and how they feel you could improve things. If you have any questions for them from your notes, now is the time to ask them as well. Most of the time, people are very willing to talk about their experience after the test is finished.
A Few Tips For Success
- Listen carefully
- Encourage, don’t criticize. Consistently let the subject know that it is your website that is being tested, not them.
- Be Neutral – Don’t be defensive because it is a site that you have designed
- Speak in plain English and avoid jargon that they won’t understand
- Don’t lead them to an answer. Respond with “What would you do” or “What do you think”
- Be patient with your test subjects
- Make sure you ask for lots of feedback
Be sure to follow-up with your test subjects to let them know of the changes you have made as a result of their observations. You can never over-estimate their importance in helping you improve your site. This will make them much more likely to help you out with future testing.