Prepare for your study

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Consider the environment in which your usability tests will take place so you have what you need for your first session.

Some things to ask yourself:

  • Where will the session be held?
  • How will you record the session (including any screens)?
  • Where should your participant sit to make them most comfortable?
  • What technology will your notetakers or observers require?
  • Do you need to set up an observation room for anyone else involved?
  • If you’re hosting a remote session, how will you set up the call to make it easy for others to observe what’s happening on the screen?

Involving others in your usability tests

Getting team members and stakeholders involved in your research sessions is a great way to expose them to the people actually using your products and services, and makes for a great empathy building exercise.

It also helps to get people on board with the research findings — there’s no better evidence than seeing it for themselves.

Consider including members of your immediate team, such as developers, designers, product owners, as well as those from other areas of the business, such as marketing, support, management.

When to get others involved
Getting other people involved in your research can be done in a myriad of ways and can depend on how your team or company is run. Some ways to include others in your research:

  • collaborate on defining objectives and key tasks
  • encourage team members and stakeholders to play the role of notetakers or observers during your tests
  • conduct debriefs following each research session to pull out key insights and observations from your team members
  • after you’ve completed several sessions, involve others when you start to analyze your data to get everyone on the same page.

How many people to involve
While you want to get as many people involved in your research as possible, try to limit the number of people in the same room as your participant when running in-person sessions. This will create a much more relaxed environment for your participant. Keep the number down to the essentials: the facilitator and a notetaker or observer.

If you’d like to invite others to observe the session, consider setting up an observer room with a live feed from the test room. It’s also a good idea to record your sessions so you can share them with those who are unable to attend on the day.

Prepare your team

If you’ve recruited some coworkers or stakeholders to take part in your sessions, you’ll want to brief them to ensure they’re clear on what they can expect. This is crucial if they have never been part of a usability test before. It’s important to explain what a usability test is, how they’re run, what the value is and what sort of findings it will generate.

People you involve in your study could have a few different roles, such as observing, notetaking, asking questions or even being involved with the analysis later on.

No matter who you’re involving or what their roles are, go over the following details:

  • when and where are the sessions taking place
  • how many sessions they should attend
  • what you expect from them during and after the session
  • when they will have an opportunity to ask participants questions (many researchers will specify no questions until the end of the session and/or when prompted)
  • let them know not to interject during the test, and ask them to hold off an any additional questions until the end
  • how to act during the test and what their role is.

Tips for notetakers
Notetakers have an important job that requires a lot of focus. Make sure you teach your notetakers how to take good quality notes and what to listen and look for during the session. Let your notetakers know what happens to their notes after the session and how you’ll be using them.

If there are any tools you’ll be using during the test, let your notetakers know in advance so they can become familiar with them ahead of time.

For more help with taking effective observations, read this article on UX Mastery’s blog.

Tips for observers
While observing is the easiest way to involve a large number of people, it’s important to ensure everyone stays engaged so they can understand the value. Encourage observers (especially key stakeholders) to write down their top insights following each session, and invite them to participate in a debrief afterwards to identify patterns among everyone involved.

Inviting notetakers or team members in Reframer
In Reframer, you can invite other people to your study as notetakers. If the person you want to invite already has a license to your Optimal Workshop account, you can simply invite them to the study in the ‘Study members’ tab. They can then take notes, tag and help analyze.

If they haven’t got a license, you can invite them to your study as a guest notetaker. They’ll be able to take notes and create or add tags to their own observations, however they won’t be able to edit your study or take part in analysis. Also, they will only have access to the specific study you invite them to.

Make sure you invite your notetakers before the session starts, so that they’re ready to go when you meet your participants.