Why you should host user testing viewing parties

| December 20, 2016
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Reviewing results of a user testing study can seem like a chore. There’s a lot of video to go through, and some of that feedback might not be altogether positive. So gathering your team and stakeholders to watch the videos together might not sound like a party, but that’s exactly what we recommend when it comes to reviewing your user testing videos.

If you’re not quite ready to break out the popcorn, first consider the benefits your team will get out of the experience:

Collectively observe and analyze user videos

If you’ve ever tried to describe a movie to someone who hasn’t already seen it, there’s usually a point at which you say, “I guess you just had to be there.”

And it’s true. Especially when it comes to observing real people and their feedback. A change in tone, a long pause, or even background noise can tell you a lot about a user and their situation. While you can learn a lot from the quantitative data gleaned from user tests, the real power comes from the qualitative aspect—which can be hard to describe to someone else.

But if everyone’s experiencing it at the same time, that challenge can be overcome. When your team watches user testing videos together, nothing gets lost in translation. Everyone was there for the experience.

Now, instead of reporting that a user didn’t know what to select, the team can immediately interpret and discuss how the user reacted.

This is important not only because it gives the feedback context, but because it puts the user front and center, keeping the human element part of the process—not just a number on a spreadsheet.
Resolve internal disputes

Resolve internal disputes

To continue the movie analogy, have you ever watched a movie with someone that just couldn’t stop commenting on what was happening on the screen? It’s human nature. We want to discuss what we see. Not surprisingly, not everyone will always agree.

The act of observing a user test with your team naturally encourages discussions—and ultimately some healthy debate.

Teams will most likely have some assumptions about what the results may be, which ultimately impact the direction of a product’s design. All those assumptions will be validated (or disproven) through the voice of users. And there’s no better time to hash out any disputes than in the moment.

Discussing results in-the-moment eliminates any doubt the team has about what the feedback means for the direction of the product. That means fewer meetings to gain consensus and more time to make a great product for your customer.

Promote user-centered culture

The best part of watching user testing videos with your entire team is that it gathers teams to focus on what matters: the user. In a sea of metrics and data, it’s often a challenge to remember what it’s all about.

Eventually, there’s a human at the receiving end of every product, and their experience is, and should be, at the center of every team’s mission. Watching users together helps teams collectively build empathy and understanding for their users.

The essential factor in promoting a user-centered company culture is a user-centered team. The movement starts from within, and sharing the user’s experience together is a powerful way to encourage this value.

Make continuous user testing a regular habit

The best way to assure that your team is always focused on its user is to check in with users on a regular basis. Consider making your viewing parties part of your weekly meetings. Teams that commit to watching videos together every week are likely to reap the benefits of continuous user testing as user research becomes a natural part of the workflow—not something that happens just a few times a year.

A worthy challenge

Getting an entire team in the same room can be a challenge. But once the team’s all there everything else becomes a lot more natural. Disputes become discussions and assumptions turn into a-ha moments.

So do your users a favor and schedule a viewing party and start popping the popcorn.