Want to be a great user study tester?

I mentioned in my last post that I’m at that crappy stage where I’m trying to recruit people to test my user study. It’s an super important stage. It’s hard enough to get participants in the first place, the last thing you want is stuff to go wrong that could have been predicted and fixed earlier.

I’ve now had (thankfully) a bunch more people test it out. And I’ve had a ton of feedback. A lot of typos (which I expected), a bunch of bugs, and most interestingly, comments/suggestions on areas that I had never even considered being problematic.

But, based on the feedback I’ve received so far, here are some things that help if you’re sending feedback:

  • Be as specific as possible when pointing out typos (what stage of the experiment, what page, what sentence).
  • Can you repeat it? If you’re going to point out a problem, please please please try to reproduce it first. If you can reproduce it, it means that first, it is problem and second, you will have an easier time explaining what happened and how to reproduce it.
  • Try the study as written/designed first, before focusing on problems/errors/suggestions. Then, do as many repeats as necessary (or you have time for) to actually thoroughly examine the process.
  • If it’s hard to explain something in words, feel more than free to use pictures or video to help. Or even meet with the designer to show it to them.
  • Be honest. If something is terrible, doesn’t make sense, you don’t agree with, whatever. Say so. It doesn’t mean it’ll be changed, but at least the study designer has a heads up if the same problem shows up later.
  • If you say you’re going to test it, please do so. If you end up unable to do so, then say something. Nothing wrong with not being able to, but better to have the heads up.

Even when I don’t agree with the comments I get back (usually because something was designed in specific way), I’m glad to receive them. Every comment means someone took the time to actually go through the study and think about it.


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