A week of user research - A newcomer’s experience

Posted by Alice Greenman on Jul 28, 2022 11:34:00 AM
Alice Greenman

Firstly, hello! My name is Alice, I joined the Web Usability team at the start of July as the new Recruitment and Marketing Executive. My background is predominantly customer service based so the world of user experience (UX) is completely new to me. With no prior knowledge of UX, what better way to learn than to dive in and watch a week of user research!  

The background 

Our client had recently launched a hub dedicated to supporting Londoners with the rising cost of living. This pulled together trusted sources of advice from across the web into a single location.  

We undertook testing with 12 Londoners from a variety of backgrounds, all of whom self-identified as being in financial hardship.  

The testing took place remotely using Zoom over three days. 

The aim of the testing  

Our client wished to establish:  

  • The positive and negative aspects of the Hub from the perspective of target users
  • How well the Hub equipped target users with information about their rights, entitlements and connecting them with further support 
  • How the Hub can be improved with a focus on content, design, layout, navigation, functionality and accessibility. 

What I learnt 

Having never watched user testing before it was fascinating to see how each user navigated the hub and to hear their thoughts.  

We heard from a range of testers, from all different walks of life. I found it particularly insightful to hear feedback from a visually impaired, screen reader user, which highlighted the importance of having an accessible site, not only for people with disabilities but for an overall good user experience.  

“The information is relevant and trustworthy” 

Over the three days of testing, some key insights quickly became obvious. Most interestingly, testers’ opinions seemed to depend on their level of knowledge on the topic of cost of living.  

Many of the users found the hub useful. They liked having the resources in one place and did not mind being signposted off to third party sites for further information. Most managed to find information relevant to their situation, which they were not previously aware of.   

“Being sign posted feels like being brushed off” 

However, not all feedback was positive. It became apparent that testers who were already well equipped with financial knowledge felt it would be quicker to turn to Google for help. The hub itself did not provide detailed advice or support but signposted testers to relevant sources. Some testers felt that if you were in a financial crisis and had to negotiate pages of text to find these sources this would simply add to an already stressful situation. 

“I would recommend this to all my friends” 

Overall, 8 out of the 12 testers said they would use the hub again and recommend it. Most felt the experience had been useful and they were taking away information which would help their current circumstances.   

Testers also made some useful suggestions for improvement. For many, a personalised checklist or pathway tailored to their situation was perceived favourably. The overriding feedback was for a clear, concise way forward. The consensus was the simpler, the better.  

My Reflections 

 Watching usability testing live really helped me see the user experience issues clearly. It gave me the opportunity to see how users navigated the site while also expressing their feelings along the way. Here are my key takeaways: 

  • Watching behaviours is as important as listening to attitudes

Our User Experience Consultant Lucy once said “What testers do is just as important as what they say, and this is often hard to articulate. Even the silences speak volumes. I found this to be very true as I watched testers struggling to achieve a task before proclaiming how easy the site was to use.   

  • All testers have their own way of looking at the world
Each of our 12 testers have their own mental model, which is constructed based on their unique life experiences, perceptions and understanding of the world.  This contributed greatly to their overall experience of using the site. Good UX differs for everyone, a lot of factors shape the way we perceive certain matters and not all users will have the same experience even though they are using the same site. 

I am extremely excited to carry on my UX journey with the Web Usability team and I’m excited to read this back and see how my understanding has developed in the years to come.  

Read more

Why you should watch usability testing live

Challenge your mental model to make better digital services

What is the purpose of usability testing

Topics: Views and News, Usability Testing

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