How do you usability test a usability testing tool? Sally Graham walks us through her days as Head of UX at WhatUsersDo
From defining usability research best practices to building a strong UX team, Sally Graham faces the full gamut of UX challenges in her role as Head of User Experience at WhatUsersDo. In their quest to build the most awesome usability testing tool possible, Sally and her team test wireframes and prototypes, grill users and go through a heck of a lot of post-it notes.
We spoke to Sally about how she usability tests a usability testing tools, and what she needs from her clickable prototypes.
What’s your average working day like as Head of User Experience Research at WhatUsersDo? Do you work on projects for clients, or are you only involved in user research for your own tool?
My team runs 30 research projects per month on average using different methodologies, so most of my time is dedicated to improving the way we work and ensuring that our clients are receiving actionable insights from diary studies, usability testing, contextual interviews, benchmarks, card sorting and others studies. Defining best practices for user research, improving UX deliverables and mentoring new team members are part of my role.
Also, I run workshops for our clients to help them to get started with user research and usability testing projects.
You guys make a user research tool, but what user research tools do you use personally (from post-its to analytics tools)?
Yes, we have our own tool to run usability testing, but we use other tools to deliver our research projects. I use Google Analytics to learn how users behave on sites and apps; that’s a must before running usability testing. Also, Optimal Workshop for card sorting, Morae for lab testing, and lots of post-its to share findings and run workshops.
Can you outline the research process you go through before launching a new WhatUsersDo feature?
My team is mainly dedicated to clients’ projects, but recently we have been involved in redesigning a dashboard for our platform. I started by defining a design challenge for my team, we design a pen and paper prototype and then we test it. Afterwards, the pen and paper prototype will become a clickable prototype. Six rounds of testing should be enough to launch a new dashboard or feature.
How do you know when you’ve got a complete picture of a user’s needs or desires?
After reviewing a digital product, interviewing the users and running usability testing, use cases will become clear. For example, ‘Mary’ (Persona A) needs a feature to buy many products on behalf of a group of people easily because this task is done daily. We will gather all use cases by persona to ensure all users’ needs are considered.
Can you tell us where wireframing and prototyping fit into the user research process at WhatUsersDo?
Iterative testing to improve prototypes and wireframes should start as soon as possible and testing should happen between sprints.
What are you looking for in a prototyping tool?
I like prototyping tools that offer a low learning curve so anyone can use them, even if they are not designers. Also, being able to add notes to my prototype and share it with my team and stakeholders is very useful.
For example, Justinmind works well for usability testing because provides clickable prototypes that allow us to see the user interaction.
The big question – top tips for turning actions into insights?
My top tips are:
- For usability testing, observe behavior instead of listening to opinions. You need to identify why a user cannot complete a task without asking it directly.
- Your test scripts should include mainly tasks rather than questions about future behavior.
- Quality is more important than quantity. Reporting 40 issues is fine but reporting 10 that are critical to improve conversions is better. Prioritize your findings by severity, priority and/or cost and look for the quick wins.
- Provide a recommendation for every issue, it helps to understand the problem.
There have been a lot of unpleasant media reports lately about how the tech industry is sexist and racially prejudiced. How do you think the industry needs to change to become more fair and inclusive?
We need to rethink the way we work and see ourselves as individuals with different needs and ways to contribute to our community. Changing the rules will help to create an inclusive environment.
What are your predictions for user experience trends in the next 12 months?
We’ve already started to plan user research for chatbots, conversational forms and augmented reality apps. I think these kind of projects will keep us busy for a year.