Five steps to effective user-testing
User-testing does not have to be fancy or complicated. The best learning happens when the government staff person who is responsible for a service has the opportunity to observe a member of the public using that service.
By taking 15-30 minutes up front to gather this input during the creation process, the user experience of your website and forms is dramatically improved.Short investment of time up front = greatly reduced calls and walk in traffic to government staff
- Grab a human (a resident of your area) in a place they already are
- Ask them to use your laptop/tablet/phone (or theirs) to try to complete an action on your current and your new/beta website (no need for fancy test environments, expensive set up, or loads of extra time)
- Have them actually try it and narrate their steps for you (so you hear their thinking in addition to observing it)
- Zip your lips and take notes (your job is to observe, not to “help” them do it)
- After they finish, ask them to tell you - How easy/hard was it to use the service? Was it what you expected? How could it be better for you?
- Where did you do the test and who they were “30-something school teacher testing in the Library”
- Your overall observation of how easy/hard it was and where they had issues “She was unsure of what to write in the first question, which is an open-text answer”
- Summary of 2-3 things they said after the fact “1, This was not very clear when I started. 2, I really liked the fillable form instead of having to call in to City Hall. 3, I wish you had made the first few questions more structured so that I could have answered more easily.”
- Your thoughts on what to do with this information “We need to make the first question a check box”)
- Provide a cup of coffee or a $5 drink voucher in exchange for their time
- Don’t lead the user by making suggestions or giving “tips”
- Watch what they do, more than what they say. How hard do they have to work to accomplish the task?
- Look for pauses in action. Where do they get stuck?
- Identify ‘Workarounds’ or adaptations when things aren’t working. For example, heading to Google when Search on the site doesn’t work well