After spending months building a product, what comes next is usability testing. This involves evaluating whether your product is functional and meets the needs of your users.
The benefits of usability testing are:
- One can assess if participants can complete specific tasks successfully and how long it takes them to complete them.
- Find out how satisfied participants are with your website or product.
- Identify the changes required to improve user experience and satisfaction.
However, getting the information you need to design a product begins with asking the right questions. A wrong set of questions can nullify the benefits of the usability session and can lead product development down the wrong path. In this article, I will discuss essential questions you should consider asking your users during testing. The questions are categorized into 3 sections which are:
- Pre-testing — asked before testing
- Testing — asked during testing
- Post-testing — asked towards the end of the test
The main goal of this phase is to obtain background information on the user engaging in the test. During this phase, the feedback you get should:
- Enable you to understand your users’ demographics to narrow your target market.
- Explore the user’s prior knowledge concerning your product. They should be aware of the problem your product is solving.
Examples of questions include:
- To get started, can you tell me briefly about yourself? [Probe: current occupation, tech savvy]
- Are you aware of the [problem your product is solving]? [If they are not, then give them a summary of your product and the problem it is solving]
During this phase, you allow the participant to interact with the product while discovering their pain points. The goals are to:
- Identify how users are engaging or disengaging with your product.
- Identify their pain points and how you can improve their satisfaction.
You observe their behaviour as they use the product and request them to think out loud as they navigate the site. Defining specific tasks for users to achieve while using the product is critical in this testing stage. Ideally, if this were an in-person session, it would be easy to watch their facial expressions and body language; however, if it is an online session, it is best if their video was on and could share their screen as they use the product. Video recording is an excellent way to collect information because it allows you to capture every detail of the session. However, remember to ask for consent before recording a session.
Examples of questions to ask:
- What do you think of this [specific page or feature]?
- If you were looking for [information], where would you expect to find it?
- What motivated you to click [a specific interaction]?
- I noticed you [did something]. Why?
- What prevents you from completing a task?
- Ask yourself internally and note how long it took them to complete a specific task.
The main goal of this phase is to gather information about their overall experience and user impression of the product. You can also ask test participants if they have questions or anything to add so you can collect more of their personal opinions.
- What is your overall impression/experience of [site]?
- What did you like best about the site?
- What did you like least about the site?
- What, if anything, caused you frustration?
- Do you have any other final comments or questions?
- On a scale from 1 to 5 (1=not at all likely, 5=very likely), how likely are you to recommend this product to a friend? And Why?
The don’ts of testing
- Don’t ask leading questions(questions that lead participants to specific answers). E.g. Do you like feature x as compared to feature y?
- Don’t provide too many details. Avoid interrupting them when you see they are about to make a mistake. Allow them to fail and watch what happens next. This will enable you to see unexpected interaction patterns. When participants ask for your help, encourage them to find the solution by themselves unless it is a situation where there is no solution to their problem yet.
- Don’t ask too many closed-ended questions. Keep them open-ended, so you can ask follow-up questions to get their honest opinion.
It is crucial to remember that usability testing is not just a milestone to be checked off on the project schedule. Your team needs to have a goal for why they are testing and then implement the results from the feedback. This will not only lead to happy customers but also ease the project development cycle.