You Are Not Alone!
I recently presented a user research method that I found particularly helpful at a tech conference, and at the start of the session I asked how many of the 60+ attendees had performed usability testing. A majority of the hands in the room went up. I then asked, “How many of you had usability testing listed as part of your original job description when you started your job?”
All but 2 hands went down.
2 out of 60+ people had expected to dive into usability testing. And that was when it hit me. I was not alone in my baptism by fire introduction to usability testing. I was standing in front of a room full of people who had been in the same boat I’d been in when I started!
How I Landed In Usability Testing Land
I was hired as a UX Editor and Content Strategist, with a primary focus on defining our product voice and tone through consistent screen copy & error messages, as well as editing wireframes to make sure that interactions flowed smoothly and in a way that would make sense to our user base. A fellow UX Editor specialized in usability testing, so I didn’t really dabble in it much in the beginning.
You’re Doing What Now?!
We had a pretty great system going until a few years ago, when she announced that she was leaving to fulfill her lifelong dream of starting a restaurant.
You Want Me To Test Who, With What?!
I had literally zero experience with usability testing, other than observing what she had done during a round of moderated testing in our office, which was both recorded and live broadcasted to our design and development teams in a conference room. (She rocked it and we got killer feedback.)
I would not be exaggerating if I said that I had a giant panic attack the moment that I realized that all of the companies usability testing needs were going to fall on me when she left, but I found it exciting at the same time! I’ve ALWAYS been a people watcher, and have a background in Psychology, so figuring out why people do the things they do and how to make their lives easier went from a hobby, to part of my job description!
My coworker gave me a great crash course in tools she had been using, pointed out the websites she’d found helpful, gave me a manilla folder full of test results and a zip file that contained her research results. And with that, I dove in. I’m lucky to have an incredibly supportive innovative VP and an equally amazing manager who helped me get my sea legs and introduced me to some awesome tools and tricks they’d come across as well, and then I was hooked.
I started scouring the web for the latest and greatest in testing tools and research methods, and haven’t stopped since, I can’t get enough! It’s almost an illness. I love testing all the things!
Don’t Get Overwhelmed!
For all of you out there who are just getting started, and you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, don’t despair! There are some great tools out there that make usability testing a breeze! I have a list of some of my favorites out at https://userexperiencerocks.wordpress.com/favoritetools. I hope you find them helpful!
A Few Articles To Get You Started
To get you started, I’ve written a couple posts about some of my favorite testing methods, recruiting methods, and tools. I hope you find these helpful as you begin your journey into the wonderful world of usability testing!
In Closing: We Heart You And Welcome To Our Awesome UX Community!
You are NOT alone! You’re surrounded by an amazing, supportive UX community! Get on Twitter and search for UX, and start following the folks that pop up in your search results! Some of the coolest tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years have come from articles I’ve seen posted by other UX pros on Twitter!
With that I’ll leave you with the wise words of Steve Krug: “Testing one user is 100% better than testing none.”
Now get out there and start making the world a better more usable place! 🙂