Join Chris Nodder for an in-depth discussion in this video Avoiding bias, part of UX Foundations: Usability Testing.
- Whenever you ask questions, you have to work very hard not to introduce bias. Bias is where you tell people your expectation of the answer in the question you ask. For instance, an obviously biased question might be, "You liked that experience, didn't you?" Slightly less obvious but still biased would be, "Tell me how much you liked that experience." What if they didn't like it at all? A bias free question might be, "Tell me how you feel about the task you just completed." Often, it's hard to ask a question in an unbiased way.
You have to look at the reason why you're asking the question. Are you trying to get people to say things you wish they'd said? Or to say nice things about your product? Or to fit in with your view of the world? Participants want to please you, so they'll pick up on tiny cues in your questions in order to give you the answers they think you'll like. One trick to ensure you don't ask biased questions is not to ask questions at all. Often, it's sufficient to get the participant talking about the topic you're interested in, and then gently guide them towards the area you care most about.
In other words, ask a very general question, and then listen, probe, and validate. Once you've got the participant talking, by asking the very general question, it's time to be quiet and let the participant think about their answer and then speak. Don't add more information or ask five questions in one long sentence. Or just continue to talk because you haven't thought through how to ask your question properly. Instead, ask your question, then listen.
Once you have an answer, it's okay to probe by asking follow-on questions. Use simple probing questions like, "Tell me more about that." Or, "Does that happen in other situations as well?" Then, validate what you heard, by summarizing it or repeating it back to the participant. You can say something like, "What I think I hear you saying is..." Or, "So let me check, you're saying..." By listening, probing, and validating, you can make sure you've captured the information you need and that you truly understood the participant's perspective.
- What is usability testing?
- Finding the right participants
- Making a screener
- Asking the right questions
- Avoiding bias
- Making a task list
- Creating the test environment
- Running a pilot study
- Moderating sessions
- Capturing real-time observations
- Analyzing and reporting your results