Usability testing facilitation top tips

Posted by Dr Sarah Burton Taylor on Nov 22, 2021 3:16:47 PM

Facilitating usability testing can be a daunting prospect. How can I get through all these tasks, stay on time and listen to what the tester is saying?

We offer the below tips to our new facilitators with when they start learning how to run usability testing. We hope you find them useful too!

  • Preparation is king! In advance make sure you are very familiar with the project scope and objectives, the tester profiles, the testing room and equipment, and, most importantly, the facilitation guide
  • Meet and greet the tester outside of the testing room away from the prying eyes of observers. This allows you to build rapport with the tester with some good old-fashioned chit chat and double check they are happy to be recorded
  • Remember to start the recording at the beginning of the session (sounds obvious but you wouldn’t be the first facilitator to forget!)
  • Don’t rush the session introduction – this is when the tester is settling in: explain clearly what will happen and what the tester is required to do - emphasise that it is the site, not the tester, that is being tested (see our facilitation top tips)
  • Use the tester’s personal introduction as an opportunity to have a conversation with the tester – to build a rapport, put the tester at ease and understand the tester context to help frame tasks
  • During the testing:
    • Never say or do anything that makes the tester look or feel stupid
    • Be non-directive (i.e. don’t tell testers where to go, even when it is obvious)
    • Ask open ‘naïve’ questions
    • Do not venture an opinion
    • Do not answer questions – throw them back to the tester “What would you expect?”
    • Remain neutral – do not get defensive or protective about the site
    • Get tester to use the cursor, not their finger, to point at screen (so it can be recorded)
    • Probe for more information when tester says something which is unfinished or unclear – e.g. why do you say that? What makes you think that?
    • Do not make assumptions – always ask tester to articulate their views even if it seems obvious
    • Don’t rush the tester – don’t be frightened of silences! As Nielsen says “it is in periods of silence where participants often offer crucial and most-poignant information
    • But, at the same time, control the time – move the tester on to new tasks subtly!
    • Don’t indicate that they have ‘failed’ if they have not succeeded on a task
    • Don’t complete a task with a value laden phrase suggesting success or failure
  • At the end of the testing, stop the recording and thank the tester – whatever feedback they’ve given!

Related content: What is the purpose of usability testing, how we do usability testing - all in moderation

Topics: Usability Testing

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