Week 8- Usability testing


This week started off with a talk from DHD, who are a local design company. What I found interesting about the talk is that the company stated how they have a strong belief in getting out of the office and taking part in local and worldwide conferences which is so cool. David ( the creative director of this company ) said that this helps the team to get out and learn from other resources and this influences their deign practice and ideas. Another point that was made in this morning talk was that this company said they really value attitude before ability which is a nice reminder that ability can be taught but attitude not so much…




Usability Testing lecture


We then moved into the lecture part of our Thursday classes and this week was Usability testing. This is something that I have always wanted to learn more about so I was excited to learn about this topic today.



What is usability testing?

Usability testing is a technique used in user-centered interaction design to evaluate a product by testing it on users. This is an iterative process but a very important process in the research and development of products. The main usability rule is to not make the user think, they shouldn’t have to decided if something works or not when it comes to design. I shouldn’t make my users ask themselves questions such as- where is the nav or can I click on this button, is this a button? This is making the users think TOO much and this means that I have bad user centred design. You can test anything from paper prototype to end product, I should always test at least one person as that is better than none. I should take a look at the book by Steve krug titled – ‘don’t make me think revisited’




The science of reading

Kyle then talked about the science of reading and we watched a short video on how peoples eyes focus more on some content on the webpage and then non at all on other parts of the page. I have never thought about anything like this before so this short clip was actually very cool to see. This highlighted the importance of hierarchy and the use of call to action buttons. Layout is so vital and good layout makes all the difference and it makes the reading easier for the user. I learned that online people on read 28% of the whole webpage !

Examples of eye tracking data










How many people do you set?

5 users – by testing this many people it usually shows up 80% of the problems to solve and fix


Where should I test?

Back in the day it was only done using usability labs, which contained mirrored glass people watching them use the products. However it is possible to conduct these tests in other locations. Testing at home involves recording them on your laptop and using quick time screen recorder with audio, this will allow you to watch them back and see how they use your product and highlight the problems.

3 people in user tests:

  1. Paticiapt
  2. Facilitator
  3. Observer – 3rd eye



Fun tip!

You can run a usably test on competiter analyse free research! To see how they run no pressure it’s someone else’s product.


Think aloud protocol

This is a task where you get the person using your product to speak about what they are doing as they are doing it.

What you need:

  • partner
  • pen and  paper
  • voice recording optional



Standard usability test

With this test you look for 3 things-

  1. Efficiency (time take)
  2. Effectiveness
  3. Satisfaction


What do you need ?

  • partner
  • pen and paper
  • voice and screen recording


Running a test

  1. Identity 3 or more tasks
  2. Prepare pre test and post questionnaires
  3. Explain the product and purpose of the test
  4. Give them written instructions
  5. Record start and end time
  6. Ask post test  questions
  7. Prepare report






Another fun tip!

Use a run through script which includes information about the test step by step e.g. start recording. By using this it is the same for everyone taking part in the test which equals- no bias)



Two types of testing:

  1. ‘Get it’ testing – adding product to the shopping cart
  2. ‘Key task’ testing- write your tasks like scenarios


What is the SUS

SUS is the System Usability Scale (SUS) provides a “quick and dirty”, reliable tool for measuring the usability.   It consists of a 10 item questionnaire with five response options for respondents; from Strongly agree to Strongly disagree.  Originally created by John Brooke in 1986,

What is a good score ? – SUS over 68 is good below is below average.



After the test –


  • Time taken on each task
  • Did they complete it ? – effectiveness
  • SUS score
  • Triage
  • Where is the problems


Online usability tests – hot jar / maze free

Kyle also explained how there are online tests that you can create and send links to people to test you product. this would be very useful for people who live far away or are unable to come in for a test.






What did I learn?

I learned that usability testing is such an important part of design. I think that this lesson was very beneficial as I got such a good overview of what testing is and I was very keen to get started with finding out how to conduct a test and today I got to learn how. There are many different ways to conduct this test and of course as students I won’t have access to the big expensive set ups that are popular. However I am excited to set up my own tests and conduct them and see the results. I wasn’t aware of the detail and research that goes into the science of reading and how your eyes fixate on thing it’s actually very cool and something that I haven’t yet thought about as a designer. I think that I gained some really great insider knowledge about this part of design / research, I especially found that writing out tasks like scenarios such a helpful tip. I am interested in research and what these tests can show and tell me about my own work and my design thinking/ problem solving.



What is next?

I want to set up usability tests for my portfolio site to see how it can be improved and if there are any problems with it. I also want to do some rounds of usability testing on my elements project when I get it designed, however I want to do this early on in the project so I can create the best product that I can. I am aiming my project to students so I will get a number of students to take part. I also found that the Maze online test so cool and I want to try that out with my projects too. UX is all about the user and I think that this is such a cool part of UX design and I really want to do more research on it and learn more about this side of process, I will research the Nielsen Norman Group who are the experts on this.


IXD301- Usability Testing
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