Man thinks while he uses a computer; woman observes.

Expectation Testing

Expectation Testing is a method that asks users what they anticipate will happen when they interact with the product. Because once a user has clicked on an interactive element and the result is known, confirmation bias may make the user believe they knew all along that a button would initiate a certain action, by asking for feedback before the user interacts with an element, you can understand if your product is behaving in alignment with users’ mental model.

This method can be performed standalone or during a generalized Usability Lab Test. It is simple, but can yield insight into the intuitiveness of the product design, especially for new users.


Schedule Time & Gather Materials

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Schedule Time:

  • Time per Session: 5-30 Minutes, Seconds for a Guerrilla Test
  • Number of Users: At Least 50 Users for Accurate Results Regarding a Given Element
    Due to the open-ended nature of the questions and the variety of responses, more users are better.
Gather Materials

Gather Materials:

  • A testable version of your site. This could be anything from static page images to a live site – the user does not need to interact with it directly.
  • Paper and pen to record results

Carry Out This Method

    1. Before testing, meet with stakeholders to determine the elements that need to be tested. This could be anything from the name of your product to a specific interactive element.
    2. Write a series of open-ended questions about these elements. To avoid bias, they must not be “yes” or “no” questions, and must not include leading details that the user could agree or disagree with.
    3. Recruit as many users as possible from your target user base.
    4. Present your test user with the testable version of your product, at whatever level of detail is absolutely necessary. Do not give them navigational control.
    5. If you are testing an interactive element that appears during a typical task flow, walk the user through that flow until they reach the element to be tested. This will provide them with the same context that users will have when they reach it naturally.
    6. Ask users what they expect from the element you are testing. Remember, these are open-ended questions. Resist any temptation as a moderator to include explanatory details.
    7. Continue the test as needed. Do not lead test users; at every step of the test, give them only the information they need.

Try These Tips

      • Ask customers to explain the reasoning behind their answers. You will need to know if users expect something because it is common practice at similar sites, if it is their pie-in-the-sky dream of how a product should work, or if it mimics something from their daily life.
      • If you have only one element that needs to be tested, you can perform this test very quickly as a Guerrilla Usability Test. This can often provide great insight at low cost because you can test many more users.

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