Align your product testing with your product development cycle and other types of user research deployed.
Don’t use product testing to duplicate results already gained elsewhere. Instead, make sure you test early enough in the development cycle that you can easily make adjustments based on your findings.
For example, you might need your technology to work both on mobile devices and tablets. Gather potential goals and target insights from stakeholders within your organization, then prioritize them according to how closely they match your business goals.
Build out a list of open ended and directed tasks for users to achieve, based on the goals you have established and inputs from core stakeholders across your organization.
Open ended tasks ask users to complete a general action that has no right or wrong answer. Use them to better understand how users interact with your product.
Directed tasks usually have a right and wrong answer or path. Use them to see how quickly users can accomplish an important piece of their user journey.
Create a test plan that includes your goals, how many users you plan to test and how to recruit them, your task list, tools needed, and any logistics around scheduling the test.
The plan can be an informal document, but should be written down so you can share it with all direct and indirect stakeholders. It also allows you to more easily recreate the condition for future follow-up tests.
Avoid common test pitfalls, like building unrealistic goals, exceeding 30 minutes per test, giving users unintentional clues, selling your product, or offending the user.
Define how you will measure the outcomes of the test, including options like time to task completion or a satisfaction survey after the test.
Testing outcomes can range from simply timing how long it takes users to complete a test, to comprehensive surveys that seek to uncover their attitudes and preferences related to your product. Align your outcomes measurability as closely as possible to your research and business goals.
For example, testing a new website can be done easily and at scale remotely, while a physical product or a product in which it’s important to observe customers while they use it benefits from in person testing.
Pick a usability testing tool, such as Loop11 or UserTesting, that allows you to execute all aspects of your test plan, and measure test outcomes, within your budget.
Other common usability testing tools include:
In addition to budget and desired testing outcomes, use other variables like how you want to moderate your test and whether you need help recruiting users to find the right tool.
Fill in gaps or augment user testing with alternative behavioral research methods, like ethnographic field studies or product usage analytics.
Ethnographic field studies include following your users for a set period of time to observe their real-life behaviors as they use your or a similar product. This approach can lead to valuable long-term insights, but is not used often because access to users - especially for longer periods of time - can be challenging, and analyzing massive amounts of largely unstructured data is complicated.
Product usage analytics allows you to see your audience’s behavior on a more quantitative level. This creates a more comprehensive picture of how your customers use your product, but can lose the in-depth insights and subtle reasons why your audience behaves as they do.