The following user-based methods can be incorporated at various points of the development or (re-) design process. Before deciding upon a specific method, it is essential to determine at what stage the test object is, how much knowledge we have about the target audience(s) and their needs, how well defined the user tasks and processes are and what questions we would like to get answered.
So: it really all depends on the specific situation.
Usability & concept testing
A classical usability test always involves three main components: A detailed interview script outlining typical user tasks, the participant thinking out loud while completing these tasks and a trained moderator observing the user.
A usability test is a qualitative research method and focuses on identifying:
- First and general impressions
- Success/failures for typical user tasks
- Overall learnability
- Ease of navigation
- Critical usability issues, which keep users from completing the main use cases and tasks in an efficient and effective manner
Tests are one-on-one, moderated sessions, which can be completed in person in the UsercentriX research lab or at the user’s location or remote via web conference/screen sharing technology. The data collected during the usability tests will be analyzed and summarized in a formal report in English. It contains observations and recommendations along with screenshots of the corresponding content.
Curious what a usability test is like? Have a look at the photos of the UsercentriX test lab or watch an example video of a session recording:
(Please note: this video was not part of a project but produced solely as an example of my work.)
Interviews with your prospective or current customers are a qualitative research method and are used to explore and find out more about their resources, needs, pains and general preferences.
The research can be conducted in the user’s home, workspace, in a cafe, on-the-go or in a research facility. It all depends on what we are trying to find out and how relevant the context of use is for the research.
All interviews are structured by an interview manual, to ensure all areas of interest are covered. Of course the moderator asks additional questions, exploring the area of interest in more detail.
After analyzing the data, the interviews can be the basis for various expert-based methods like:
Questionnaires are a great user-based method to collect quantitative data from your users. The data can be used to collect, verify or deepen knowledge about the target audience of interest.
The quality of the results will depend hugely on the quality of the survey questions and structure. Being trained in methodology and data analysis in university, whilst completing my MA Psychology, is a helpful qualification.
Using online surveys (vs. paper) makes it easy to collect and analyze the data.
Card sorting is a mix of qualitative and quantitative research, which helps us understand how and why users would organize the navigation of a website. It is a collaborative effort of multiple users, to develop a navigation structure, which reflects what is most intuitive to them.
Users are asked to sort content (on digital or actual paper cards) into navigation categories. Using an online tool makes data analysis much easier, since most likely you will get different outcomes from different people. By using a large enough sample of participants, you ensure that the data becomes more valid and the patterns more obvious.
In order to test how intuitive and efficient a current or newly developed navigation structure is, tree testing is a great option.
The website’s navigation structure is uploaded to an online tree testing tool and representative website users are asked to complete typical user tasks. Analysis of the click-paths shows which navigation categories and elements are most intuitive and which need to be improved. I personally find it beneficial to observe users while doing this and ask them to verbalize their thoughts. This way you also get information about why they are choosing a certain navigation path.
As with card sorting, increasing the sample size helps to find more statistically significant data, but either way this method is a great way to (quickly) assess, if you are on the right way.
If you have any questions about any of the above methods or how they could be beneficial for your project, feel free to contact me.