This video discusses the right way to lead user experience research sessions. In order to make sure that you get the most out of your sessions, you need to ensure that you make participants feel as comfortable as possible and don’t lead them in any way.
- When moderating research sessions, the way that you ask questions and guide the conversation is just as important as the quality of questions that you write. You want your participants to feel comfortable and engaged enough with you to share information, so you have to set a friendly, approachable tone. At the beginning of every moderated session, remind participants that there are no wrong answers, that you value their opinion, and that your job is to uncover insights both good and bad. Remember that you should be looked at as a neutral party.
If you weren't involved in the creation of whatever you're investigating, let participants know. You can make the same assurances to participants in unmoderated sessions. In these cases you have to be especially careful with the tone and the voice of your instructions and introductions. Participants should still be reminded that their opinion is valued and that they are not being tested. It's important to make unmoderated research participants feel as comfortable as possible, even though they won't be interacting with a person.
When possible, I find it helpful to include an email address that participants can contact so that it feels more personal and that they're reminded there are real people behind the research and available to answer questions. It's especially important in unmoderated research to ensure that your instructions are crystal clear and that the tasks flow in a way that makes sense to participants. Rather than prioritizing the most important area to be assessed first, make the tasks and questions mirror the progression of a process in real life.
For instance, you wouldn't ask someone to assess the checkout process of an e-commerce site before asking them to try searching for products. Participants may give you a faulty negative feedback if the flow doesn't make sense. To get the most out of unmoderated behavioral research, it also helps to break questions into small, discrete tasks. For instance, rather than asking the participant to search for a shirt, break that into one task asking to find a shirt in their size, another task for finding their preferred color, and then a task looking for a particular style.
Breaking up tasks ensures that participants will more fully consider each component and you'll get more comprehensive feedback that participants may not have thought to share if they're assessing the whole task at once. When conducting moderated usability tests, remind participants that you'd like them to think aloud as they go through the process of interacting with something. This is unnatural for most people, so try giving them a small example. I usually walk someone through how we would log into my email. For instance, first I open a browser and type gmail.com into the address bar.
Have a few accounts, so I select which one I need to open and I have the password saved in my browser. It should just come up. If it doesn't, I'll have to try a series of different passwords because I never remember which is which. Then I'd click log in. If you're moderating the usability test and a participant gets stuck or asks for your guidance, remain neutral and ask how they think they'd figure it out if you weren't there. If you're unsure that you understood what they said, you can use a simple technique called the boomerang, where you reply with a neutral question.
For instance, if a participant asks, would I have to sign up for an account to buy this? You can reply by saying something like, well, what do you think? Or what would you try if you were at home? If a participant doesn't ask a question, but seems a little bit lost, you can use something called echoing where you repeat back what they said in question form. For instance, if someone says, well, I'm looking for a register button, but, umm, I'm not really sure, I don't really see.
You could respond with something like, not sure of what? By using the participant's own language you're not leading them in any particular way, but replying in a question makes it clear that the participant should further explain. It's a small nudge, but it can really help participants frame their thoughts as replies to a question, which is usually much easier to interpret. You'll also want to ensure that you follow up with open-ended questions to help participants elaborate. I like to utilize a technique called the five Y's to get to the deeper meaning of something.
It's very straightforward. Essentially you ask why in response to open-ended questions up to five times. It's not always that straightforward, so here's an example. You might ask why did you pick that product? It's the one I always get. Why do you always get that one? Because it's the cheapest. Why do you always pick the cheapest? Because I'm on a strict budget. Why are you on so tight of a budget? Because I'm a student. Why does being a student mean that you're on a budget? Because I don't have time to work and school is expensive.
At this point you understand much more about the context that the person is actually in, and you've gotten much more information about how they actually choose products than you would have if you had stopped at the first question. Next, always remember not to interrupt your participants. Try to get comfortable with periods of silence. Humans are naturally inclined to fill silence, so participants will often keep talking and lead you to information that you may not have even known to ask about.
Some of the best qualitative insights come from simply keeping your mouth shut and allowing participants to keep talking. Listening closely to what participants are saying allows you to come up with follow-up questions that dig deeper or wider than your original scope. Don't worry about sticking exactly to a test plan. Part of the beauty of moderated sessions is that you're able to go off-script and uncover information you would never otherwise get. To that point, it's extremely helpful to have a team member take notes when you're running moderated sessions so that you can completely focus on listening and crafting deeper questions.
If you're trying to capture every bit of the session, it's harder to fully engage. Read body language and dig deeper. Note takers also don't need to write down every word. Rather, focus on taking notes that record the take aways that relate to the stated goals of the test. If you're not able to have a teammate help out, try to take only high level notes and record your sessions so that you can refer back to them later. Session recordings are also great for grabbing snippets to help you explain take aways while reporting your results.
This course introduces the fundamentals of user experience research so that anyone can understand the benefits and start integrating research into their everyday design and development process. Start watching to learn how to use UX research to find the answers to the most basic questions about your customers—who, what, when, why, and how—and drive better user experiences and business outcomes.
- An overview of research methods, including usability testing, interviewing, eye tracking, surveys, and many more
- A review of the main types of research, including quantitative and qualitative, behavioral and attitudinal, and moderated vs. unmoderated
- Determining the right methodologies based on organizational environment, client type, and project stage
- Targeting the right research participants
- Crafting the right questions in the right way
- Analyzing and presenting your data