Usability Testing: Your Game Plan

March 17, 2015In Usability4 Minutes

Usability testing is one of the most fundamental parts of the overall website design process. These tests involve close observation of selected participants as they maneuver through a site at their own pace, for the purpose of identifying any usability issues or problems. Once these issues have been discovered, a brand can determine the participants’ satisfaction with the website or product.

UX Design Ideation
Usability Testing and UX Design Ideation

A lot of collaboration goes into finding the right person to assist in the usability testing process, and team members work together to make final decisions as to their usability game plan. Once that outline is agreed upon, you’re ready to go. The following elements must be included in your strategy.

Scope and Purpose

Before going forward, you must indicate what you’ll be testing – this could be anything from the name of your website and how it will register with users to how the product/website functions. Here is where you would specify how much will be covered in the test, ensuring that there are no surprises moving forward.

Next, please look over the concerns, questions, needs and goals that drive the test. These can range from the widespread, general topic to detailed, specific concerns. For example, consider the following two questions: “Can users access all of the relevant elements and tabs on our home page?” and “Will our users find a specific tab or button on that same page, or will this button have a better effect on the other side of the page?”

Schedule/Location and Sessions/Equipment

Set a time and place for the test – once that is solidified, you can delve into describing the sessions themselves (detailing how long they will be). When communicating with usability test participants, make sure to leave them time to take the test without feeling pressured, which may affect the results and skew your research.

Whatever equipment is used – desktop computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone – please make sure that it is indicated, including information about the size of the equipment and added software. Please be sure to include any recording or audio taping within the test sessions or if any other tools will be used in the process.

Participants and Scenarios
Before the plan can be carried out, could you consult with your team and see how many participants will be ideal for recruitment? This step also includes the screening process involved in selecting individuals.


This includes the questions that will be asked to participants before the sessions begin – examples include questionnaires or surveys asking about their background or any other relevant bio details. Questions determining the satisfaction and ease of the task are asked after each scenario is completed by test participants. At this point, you can see if the product/site is recommended based on the initial prototypes.


Finally, plan out which members of your staff will be participating in the usability test and any roles they will be playing within the process. There should be a usability specialist involved throughout (overseeing) and any assistants and note-takers. Please encourage as many people as possible to participate in this exercise to increase familiarity with the importance of usability testing – the team should remain strong from start to finish.

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