Join Chris Nodder for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating the test environment, part of UX Foundations: Usability Testing.
- For most of your usability sessions, it's likely that you'll be bringing participants into your workspace to take part in usability studies. So what do you need to do to set the space up appropriately? First off, let's forget the fancy setups you see in research facilities. One-way mirrors and multiple ceiling and wall-mounted cameras are nice tools, but they really aren't necessary for the vast majority of usability tests. Instead, what you need is a quiet place where you can interact with people from outside the company without being disturbed.
Somewhere close to your reception area with easy access to restrooms tends to work best. That way, you don't have to bring people through your work environment or down miles of corridors to get to the place where you'll run the study. Try not to have too many distractions like marketing posters, toy collections, and so on. A small conference room often works best. Also, take a look around and see whether you'd be happy bringing someone important into the room. Have you tidied up all the bits of dead computer that are lying in the corner? Have you clean the whiteboard off? Have you emptied the trash? Often, because you use the space all the time, you get used to the mess.
Someone coming in for the first time might be quite shocked. This is the image they'll have of your organization. Make sure it's a good one. If you don't have a suitable public space, let's say you're a startup working out of your parents' basement, you'll need to find a location that wouldn't be too creepy for someone to visit. Hotels typically rent out conference rooms, or you might find a local hot desking service that rents out individual offices or conference rooms by the day or week. A really advantage of this type of location is that they have reception staff who'll greet and keep track of participants.
They also have clean toilets and sometimes even free coffee. These locations are for a neutral environment with no indication of your company's brand, and that, in itself, be very useful. One way to avoid the headaches of setting up a suitable environment is to go to your participant's location. That could be their office, their home, or even their commute to work, if that's where they'll be using your product. However, the additional randomness that this introduces and the lack of space for observers to watch means you should really consider using an environment that's under your control for at least your first couple of studies.
- 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