Schedule Time & Gather Materials
- Time to Write a Facilitator’s Script: 4 Hours
- Time for Testing: 1 Hour per Participant
- Time to Create a Results Presentation: 4 Hours
- Facilitator script
- Prototype or live product
- Audio, video recording
- Screen capture software
- Other lab software, as needed
- Pen and paper for note taking
- Spreadsheet and presentation software
Carry Out This Method
- Determine the goals for the lab test.
- Create a facilitator script.
- Recruit participants (6-10) from the pool of anticipated or current users.
- Prior to the start of the session, test all equipment.
- Make sure participants and observers understand the testing protocol (No wrong answers. User comments are helpful and will not hurt anyone’s feelings. The script is a guide only. etc.)
- Distribute scripts to observers.
- Follow standard questioning practice (see More below).
- Look for patterns between users, even during the course of testing. As patterns develop, focus questions for later test participants on issues inferred from those patterns. These patterns are likely the things that are important to them, or they may point to underlying concerns.
- Report insights to stakeholders, developers, and designers.
Try These Tips
- You may need to offer greater incentives to motivate users to travel to a lab. To avoid wasting time, make sure incentives are sufficient to ensure users show up.
- Usability Lab Tests are opportunities to build confidence with stakeholders. Although lab tests do not provide quantitative data (see A/B Testing), it does demonstrate that the practice of UX is analytical and logical.
- Not every usability goal can be assessed in a lab environment. Complex tasks that require inputs from multiple systems, for example, may not provide useful feedback.
Explore More Resources
- Wikipedia: Usability Lab
- O’Reilly: Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights
- Liz Danzico: User Interview Techniques
- Occam’s Razor: Lab Usability Testing: What, Why, How Much
- Nielsen Norman Group: Traveling Usability Lab