Prototyping & usability testing

Usability testing plan

Colton Schweitzer
November 5, 2020

Once you have gotten to the point where you’re ready to start usability testing, first create a test plan. The purpose of the usability test plan is to document: 

Your goals for testing

Why are you running the test? What are you hoping to learn?

The list of research questions

What questions do you need to answer about your designs/wireframes/prototype? Are there any interactions you need to test?

How, where, and when to conduct the test

Is your test moderated or unmoderated? Remote or in-person? When are you conducting the test?

Who’s participating in your test?

Who are you testing with? This information will depend on the study goals and product audience.

Once you’ve built the plan, you can start building your usability test script.

You’ll read the usability test script to each participant and use it to guide the session.  

Basic sections of a usability test script:

The introduction

Pre-study questions

Scenarios and tasks

And post-study questions

Here are 5 metrics that Usability.gov recommends to capture task completion:

• Successful task completion: Whether or not the participant was able to successfully complete the task.

• Critical errors: If the participant isn’t able to finish the task for one reason or another. They may not even be aware that the task is incomplete or incorrect. 

• Non-critical errors: These are errors that don’t result in the participant’s ability to successfully complete the task. These usually mean that the assignment was completed less efficiently.

• Error-free rate: The percentage of participants who completed the task without any errors (critical or non-critical).

• Time on task: The amount of time it takes the participant to complete the task. 

You don’t need to use all of these. We typically record successful task completion and subjective metrics like how difficult they thought the task was and how satisfied they were with the experience. 

Planning for a usability test is a crucial step in the testing process. It sets you up for success and will take the stress out of testing because you’ve already planned for everything you’ll encounter.

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