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4 Tips to Help You Become a UX Pro in No Time

| June 12, 2014
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As you prepare to set up your next usability study, it’s easy to get carried away with all of the things you want to test.

You’re probably thinking of all the additional revenue you’ll get from optimizing your site, all the office bets you can settle and all of things you can learn from competitive benchmarking. The possibilities are endless.

But if you really want to get the most out of your testing, there a few important things you should always keep in mind.

1) Think Big and Work Your Way Down

One of the best ways to find out what you should be testing next is to think of your overall goal and test it. Don’t worry too much about the details at this point. These preliminary tests will help you understand your users and point you in the right direction when you’re ready to leap into a full-blown study.

For example, if you’re an e-commerce store trying to increase conversions, have participants go through the process of finding a specific product on your site and placing an order. You might find that they’re having trouble finding the product, or maybe having a difficult time placing an order. This is the point where you start drilling down to the details of your study.

If they’re having trouble finding the product, test your internal search and categories. Your search might be turning up the wrong products, or your product categories may not be as intuitive as you think.

If they’re having trouble checking out, test your shopping cart and call to action. Your products might be disappearing from your customers’ carts or your call to action might be confusing them.

It’s easy to get lost in all of the different things you’ll want to test on your site, but running this broad test will help you prioritize where you should be focusing your efforts.

2) Make Sure Participants Understand Your Tasks

Now that you’re ready to put together a detailed study, you’ll want to know how well your participants understand your tasks. The last thing you would want to happen is to run a study with 100 participants, only to find out that a majority of them have no idea what to do with your tasks.

Run a few pilot tests and pay attention to what your participants are saying and doing. Don’t assume that a participant understood all of the tasks just because a test was completed. Watch your video all the way through and make note of any time they might have been confused and use this information to make revisions to your tasks.

Running a pilot test also gives you an opportunity to refine your tasks and add new ones that you hadn’t thought of previously. If you’ve been able to put together an awesome plan of attack like what I suggested in the previous tip, this is less likely to happen. However, it’s always nice to have an opportunity to make changes before you launch your study.

3) Use Rating Scales to Help Quantify Results

While usability testing helps you dig up some great qualitative data on your site, it’s important to give yourself the ability to measure the results. This is where rating scales come in handy when setting up your tasks.

As you compile test data, rating scales will allow you to do things like aggregate or average the overall scores of two features you’re comparing.

The most important thing to remember is to be clear about what each end of the scale represents. Although services like UserTesting’s Enterprise offerings allow you to label each end of the scale, it’s still a good practice to clarify this in your task. You can see an example of this in the image below.


Be clear about what each end of the scale represents when using tasks with rating scales.

4) Vary Your Task Types to Avoid Participant Fatigue

While rating scales are a great way to compile quantitative data, you should also be mindful of how often you use them. Like most things, it’s always better in moderation, and you should always be careful about how complex your tasks might be.

Too much of the same type of task will likely lead to participant fatigue, resulting in unreliable data, which means all of your hard work and preparation go to waste.

UserTesting Enterprise allows you to use a number of different ways to collect quantitative data, so try mixing things up to keep your users engaged. For best practices with these types of tasks, be sure to check out this blog post by one of our very own superstar researchers.

UserTesting’s Enterprise platform lets you combine task types and questions to get valuable quantitative data out of your tests.

UserTesting’s Enterprise platform lets you combine task types and questions to get valuable quantitative data out of your tests.

Combine your scales with multiple choice questions and written responses (both as a task and in the post-test questionnaire) to keep things interesting for your participant, and you’ll get a much better set of data to base your optimizations on.

Now Go! Test, and be Merry!

Starting a new study is always a new adventure, and aside from your actual results, you’re bound to learn a ton of new things about setting up your studies along the way.

Keep these four things in mind as you’re getting ready to tackle your next project, and you’re sure to gain even more actionable insights from the data you’ve gathered. For more useful tips, be sure to download our eBook A Complete Guide to User Testing Your Next Project.

Have fun and as always, happy testing!