Why you should record observations when usability testing
Despite the part vocal feedback can play in determining how a participant’s experience of your website or app has gone, usability testing is essentially a visual discipline.
One of the key aims of a usability test is to gauge user behaviour, whether on a grand scale, such as the ease of the user journey from landing page to purchase, or on a much smaller scale such as the necessity of a particular field in a registration form. The best way of understanding this is through observation.
A test participant may say one thing – or even feel they should be saying that – but in reality do something else. For instance, they might find the navigation method confusing, but not to the extent that it causes any major headaches. When asked about navigating the website they say they had no problem getting to where they needed to be, but if the task was observed you would’ve seen the initial confusion and, if it is an issue that is cropping up repeatedly throughout usability testing, be in a position to rectify it.
When observing a usability test, it is important to look for and record various behaviours. These include:
- How they approached the task – How did they get started? What steps they took to complete it. Was it a direct path to completion and were they successful?
- Actions and reactions – How did they interact with the website? What did they do when they first landed on a page? How confident were they in the choices they made?
- There expressions – What did they say when performing the tasks, what were there exact words? What did their body language reveal? Did they exhibit specific emotions when doing the tasks?
Writing these observations down and referring to them when formulating your report will ensure a deeper understanding of how users will connect with your website or app, allowing you to resolve any potential problems and create a richer experience for all your customers.