In my last post I discussed the anatomy of a great usability test (link). In this post we will look at what to do after the test has been conducted. A well devised test is only half the battle, if you're going to get actionable results you'll need a full report, complete with recommendations for your developers.
1.) Look for patterns
Ideally, your test will consist of responses from 3 to 5 people in your target demographic. It's important to listen to all of the feedback they give you but identifying patterns will help you discover what you need to act on. If one person says your layout is confusing, that could be because of their particular preference. If four people say your layout is confusing, it means you need to address it.
2.) Watch what they do, not what they say
People communicate and process information in a number of ways, most of which are non-verbal. You should be recording the actions of each tester so that you can see how they interact with and move through your website or application. Paying close attention to these interactions will often point out areas of need. If you want users to gravitate towards a button but you see their cursor wandering to the other side of the page, perhaps you need to highlight the button better to create that call to action.
3.) Test your assumptions again
In construction you'll often hear the term "measure twice, cut once" and the same concept applies here. Once you've implemented your recommended changes into a prototype form, test it again with users from the same demographic makeup.
4.) Test constantly
You may receive additional recommendations at this point but that's OK. Act on these as well and your development path is always moving in the right direction. Every test will shed light on some aspect of your design and keep you on point.
At several points during the development of powderDesk we invited people to demo our prototype as a part of our Early Adopter Program. The feedback we received helped us hone in on an effective v1 release but we didn't stop there. We constantly solicit feedback and feature ideas from our user base which helps us get the right features into the application.
CEO - Spire Business Services