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Short Guide to Quick Accessibility User Testing. Part 2

In the last two posts of the series we have discussed the importance of user testing and the arguments in favor that you can use while advocating for the study. You can read more about it in the introductory article. Part 1 of user testing guide shed some light on organizing user testing session based on Polidea’s project with Papereed. Our aim was to create an accessible iOS app and test it with users suffering from vision impairment. Part 2 offers examples of questions, hints and observations that you may find useful in your work.

Follow the structure of an interview

Be ready to prepare the detailed plan of your interview and conduct it step-by-step later on. The following example may be of some inspiration:

Introduce yourself and discuss the logistics, answering the basic questions such as:

  • Who are we?
  • Why are we here and what is the goal of today’s meeting?
  • Where are we?
  • Who is involved?
  • What will be our roles?

Tip: It is important to highlight the main idea of user testing, meaning: gathering feedback. There are no bad answers!

Introduce the setting and people involved

It may sound like this:

“There are 3 of us here in the observation room. While we will be talking, Agnieszka will take notes and observe your performance. There is a one-way mirror in the room. At its other side sits Przemek who is ready to help us with tech issues in case somethings goes wrong.”

Tip: Show that you’re in the same team with participants and not the the designs you’re testing

It is definitely more challenging to form a rapport with visually impaired or blind users during such testing session. They should be informed as far as the number of people in the room is concerned. Imagine that you are their eyes now—you are responsible for providing them with all the information they need. Also, remember not to involve too many people—it is always more comfortable in a smaller group.

Then come the following questions:

  • What will you be asked to do for us?
  • How long will the testing session take?
  • Are we going to record it? Do we plan to share the material in the future?

While providing the answers try to be as precise and clear as possible. Creating an atmosphere of comfort and mutual understanding is crucial.

Present the product

Be prepared to provide users with a quick intro about the main concept, clarifying the general idea of the product.

Present participants

Prepare the list of some basic questions concerning: occupation, technology literacy, applications used, the type of phone, the period of using iPhone, certain features you want to focus on (in our case, we wanted to explore accessibility features) and apps the users find useful on a daily basis.

Follow the scenarios

Start by asking participants to perform concrete actions. Try not to refer to them as “tasks” on purpose as they are not something you can success or fail in. Scenarios should have clear focus points: things you are interested in and elements that you feel can be challenging for the users.

While observing test users’ performance, remind them to think aloud. Take notes if the key tasks were completed or turned out challenging. Analyze what could be the reason behind: maybe you should have provided them with a hint? Encourage them to share their ideas that could improve the overall experience. Ask the follow-up questions to investigate the problematic areas. They may be inspired by the following list:

  • Who told you about this?
  • What made you click that?
  • Why did you decide to go to the next screen?
  • Where did you hear that?
  • How would you change the app’s options?

Find some time for extra questions

If there’s some time left, take this opportunity to ask some extra questions about app usage.

Example: Did you enjoy using the application? Is it similar to the type of apps you use on a daily basis? What is the first thing that comes to your mind after using it?

Prepare short summary

Remember to thank all the participants for their time and help. Specify the follow-up procedures (for e.g with payment). Ask if they have any questions.

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During the interview—10 things to remember

  • Ask open and follow-up questions (5W1H: Who, What, Where, When, Why, How), answer questions with questions: “What does this button do? What do you think it does?”
  • Ask test participants to continuously think out loud and comment as they move through the interface. They should share everything with you: their doubts, the way they come to the right solution, their impressions and feelings and the things they don’t understand.
  • Watch the body language, facial expression and tone of voice (yours and theirs).
  • Don’t be afraid of silence and pauses (people need some time to think)
  • Always pretend that you don’t know the correct answer: get the test users to educate you even if you already know something
  • Be careful not to influence answers with your opinion or personal experience!
  • Write down quotes whenever possible
  • Gather answers to all the focus points while taking notes (you should have them properly defined before)
  • Do your best to make the participants feel comfortable. Respect their private space, avoid intense eye contact and “expert” attitude.
  • Show that you’re on the same team with participants and not the the designs you’re testing

After the interview—synthesize and share

Keep the momentum going and write concise report or prepare visual presentation with the recommended solutions straight after the testing—with fresh memory and energy to share all the insights.

The report structure should be simple. Just tell (write down):

  • What you did
  • What you heard
  • What are the design recommendations
  • What you suggest to do next

It is not about writing an extensive material. Summarize the most important insights you discovered and prepare short, but strong argumentation based of what users did and said. Such material works best in improving the product.

Give recommendations!

Think about the things that can be implemented straight away to improve the product. Share all the insights from the study with team members and make them feel close to the participants. Explain clearly why it is important to make some changes and start from easy, but effective tasks. Quick and visible effects that really improve the usability of the app will encourage everyone to continue.

Good luck!

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MagdaUI Designer

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