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The Biggest Usability Testing Mistake of All

Wrong Way Label

In the past three posts, we’ve discussed the top mistakes in the planning, conducting, and analysis and reporting phases of usability testing.

To summarize, these were:

1. No clear objective

Not defining the specific motivations for testing at the beginning of a study will prevent you from planning effective tasks.

2. Poorly written tasks

If your tasks are vague or leading, or don’t get at the root of your research questions, you won’t obtain useful results.

3. Your scope is too broad

Don’t try to test too much at once. Usability testing is most effective when you zero in on a few key questions per study.

4. Your test is too long or complex

If your test has complicated instructions or a large number of tasks, there is a greater chance users will get off track – which is especially important to avoid in remote unmoderated testing.

5. Not running a pilot

Doing a trial run will reveal any problems before you spend the time and money testing with a wider audience.

6. Not iterating

When a session reveals a problem, you can update your design and test your solution with the next participants. Don’t miss this opportunity!

7. Rushing through analysis

All too often, teams push usability testing back further and further until they haven’t left any time for analysis. In order to get the most value out of your research, you need to spend time understanding it!

8. Jumping to conclusions

Remain objective while observing sessions. Make sure you thoroughly analyze your data before beginning to synthesize trends and devise solutions.

9. Not communicating findings effectively

The most insightful findings are totally useless unless you communicate them in a way that’s meaningful and accessible. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for reporting; you need to find the methods that work best for your team.

Finally, we arrive at the ultimate usability testing mistake. This is...

Not testing at all

Although we have just spent three articles describing all the ways your usability testing can go wrong, we still believe that any test is better than no test. Simply seeing someone try to use your product or website gives you a fresh perspective on the design you have spent so much time with.

If you are reluctant to conduct usability testing because you are inexperienced or don’t think you have time to learn how, our advice is to just dive in. The more you do it, the more you will learn, and the more rewarding your results will be!

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