Northern User Experience September 2019

The Northern User Experience meets up in Newcastle every couple of months to talk about everything about user experience.

This month was about user testing.

Jamie Campbell - UX Designer at Newcastle University

Jamie talked about the who, what, why, where, when and how of user testing.

Who - identify a varied selection of participants to cover things like abilities, different technologies or ways of working, language.

What - type of test which could be paper or digital prototypes, working systems, a/b testing.

Why - to validate or disprove by testing with real users. So we get close to who we are designing for and to keep users in mind at every step.

Design isn’t finished until someone is using it.

- Brenda Laurel

Where - testing can be done in a lab setting in the office or in other locations.

Jamie has had much success testing with students in popup sessions on fresher days as well as gorilla testing in coffee shops by offering coffee vouchers for 10 minutes of someones time. This enabled him to better target his audience and get quick feedback.

How - these steps help organise a testing session.

Tom Devlin from Userlab

Tom talked about running a user usability testing session.

There are two type of usability testing

Like Jamie, he discussed types of tests such as pop up research which are easy to setup, goes where the users are and have shorted research sessions. Field usability testing which observes users in their natural environment and uses their own equipment to remove device bias. And lab studies which are controlled and scripted.

Do's and Don'ts

What Next?

I think user or usability testing would be big benefit for the software we develop at work. Currently we rely on feedback which comes in the form of incidents from Service Desk, analytics or trickle in from elsewhere such clients own user testing. But a lot of what we design comes from gut instinct or assumptions with no data.

We have had some some success with analytics in some software, but backing up what we develop with usability testing would help make sure the changes we make are fit for purpose or can confirm what the data is telling us.

We could start small with some user testing with users in the business to identify bottle necks in process or perhaps recruit users internally for trying our user testing to validate prototypes or parts where we have identified problems.