Is Observing One User Worse Than Observing None?

Seeing is believing. Observing just a handful of users interact with a product can be more influential than reading pages of a professionally done report or polished presentation. But what if a stakeholder only has time to watch two or just one of the users in a usability study? Are there circumstances where watching some

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10 Things That Can Go Wrong in a Usability Test

A lot of planning goes into a usability test. Part of good planning means being prepared for the many things that can go wrong. Here are the ten most common problems we encounter in usability testing and some ideas for how to avoid or manage them when they inevitably occur. Users don’t show up :

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Measuring Usability Best Practices in 5 Words

While there are books written on measuring usability, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the details and intimidated by the thought of having to deal with numbers. If I had to use five words to describe some best practices and some core principles of measuring usability, here they are. 1. Multi-method There are

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10 Ways to Conduct Usability Tests with Credit Cards & Personal Data

A key principal of usability testing is that users should simulate actual usage as much as possible. That means using realistic tasks that represent users’ most common goals on the website or app they’ll be working with ‘out in the wild.’ Usability testing is inherently contrived but we still want to provide as realistic a

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5 Reasons You Should and Should Not Test With 5 Users

There are a lot of misconceptions about when it is and when it is not appropriate to test with five users. There’s no reason to take an extreme position on this issue and think it’s never acceptable or always the right number. Instead you should understand what you can and cannot learn from just a

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Are Severe Problems Uncovered Earlier in Usability Tests?

After I conducted my first usability test in the 1990’s I was struck by two things: Just how many usability problems are uncovered and how some problems repeat after observing just a few users. In almost every usability test I’ve conducted since then I’ve continued to see this pattern. Even after running 5 to 10

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What Goes into a Usability Test Plan?

Failing to plan is planning to fail. It’s both good practice and often necessary to have a test plan before beginning a usability test. Like any plan, it should not only lay out the framework of the study, but also help identify problems with the methodology, metrics or tasks while something can still be done

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Measuring User Confidence in Usability Tests

Are you sure you did that right? When we put the effort into making a purchase online, finding information or attempting tasks in software, we want to know we’re doing things right. Having confidence in our actions and the outcomes is an important part of the user experience. That’s why we ask users how confident

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7 Ways to Find Users for Usability Testing

You need users in order to do usability testing. It can be a small scale do-it-yourself usability test or a large sample corporate usability test but finding available users can be a burden. It’s often cited as one of the reasons usability testing isn’t done more often. The process by which you find your users

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Seven Tips for Writing Usability Task Scenarios

The core idea behind usability testing is having real people trying to accomplish real tasks on software, websites, cell phones or hardware. Identifying what users are trying to do is a key first step. Once you know what tasks you want to test, you’ll want to create realistic task scenarios for participants to attempt. A

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