So You Did a Usability Test – Now What?
By Louisa Katlubeck | Monday, November 4, 2013
Congratulations! You've finished your usability test. What's the next step? How do you organize, analyze and present your findings and recommendations? Keep reading to find out!
Before you can begin to sift through your data, you need to be organized. Pre and post-test surveys should be collected and sorted according to participant number, then entered into some sort of tracking system like a spreadsheet. If you took written notes during the test sessions, type them up. In addition, if you were able to record the test sessions, watch the videos again - at least once - and use those insights to supplement the notes you previously jotted down.
Now that you have all your study data, what do you do with it? More specifically, how do you analyze it? Well, numbers are relatively straightforward - find the mode or if appropriate, the mean and standard deviation. How then do you manage free answer questions? The key here is to use your skills and knowledge to categorize the answers to each question. This will enable you to see if there are any patterns to the participants' responses.
You will also want to identify and prioritize any usability concerns flagged during the test. I recommend a red-yellow-green system, where red is defined as "must fix" or the system will be virtually unusable, yellow is defined as "recommended fix" and green is "fix if there's time." I use this same system for heuristic evaluations. Below is a sample of such a prioritization scheme, taken from a heuristic evaluation of a website.
Finally, it's time to write the report. Key areas to discuss include a brief overview of the study process and desired goals, participant demographics (ensuring that individual participants cannot be identified), study findings (again being careful that individual participants cannot be identified) and recommendations for product improvement. This is also your opportunity as a UX professional to suggest follow-up testing for any new usability challenges that were raised during the previous test. This is also the time to emphasize to upper management how successful your recent usability test was, and the benefits of additional testing.
So, how do you know your test has gone well? You will have usable data and probably many pages of notes, which directly relates to the questions, issues and challenges you wanted to address via the test. Your test report will summarize and prioritize your findings and possibly make recommendations for specific improvements (and maybe additional testing) for the product to be designed.