The rise of Agile, means that organisations are taking a new approach to UX testing.

Gone are the days of practitioners and agencies running occasional lab-based sessions at specific project milestones. Design decisions (and testing to inform them) need to happen usually within two week sprints. This means that testing needs to be faster, much faster – and run in days, not weeks or months.

But, how do you achieve this speed of turnaround without hiring hundreds of researchers?

The answer is to ‘democratise research’ – a fancy term that simply means enabling non-practitioners to run their own tests within sprints. Many UserZoom clients are using our platform – which automates time-consuming mechanics (like recruitment) and is pre-loaded with test templates – to enable designers, product owners and anyone who is not a full time researcher to run their own testing. Quickly.

Outlined below are five of the most common questions that product teams need answers to, and the associated UserZoom tests they’re running to get the answers within sprints.

Question 1: Before we start designing, what’s most important to customers?

Answered with a survey, which allows you to ask a wide variety of probing questions to get inside the heads of potential customers to understand their attitudes and habits. To understand what’s most and least important to customers, the survey should include a ranking question, like this:

You can take an example survey here that demonstrates some of the question types.

Surveys are fast to set up and can be even faster to analyse. You can set up a survey in less than an hour, get results the next day and then start making insight-driven decisions about designs.

It’s also really easy to get rapid feedback on design elements, like icons, as you can upload them straight into the survey.

Question 2: What do users think of this concept?

Answered with a think out loud study (aka Basic Usability Test) where users speak their instinctive, immediate thoughts to a written concept or stimuli that you present. It is a great way, before you’ve actually started designing, to gauge how users respond to your ideas and what elements/benefits are most and least appealing to them.

In the screenshot below, users are presented with a very basic idea (as a Google Doc) and asked to give verbal feedback:

Concept testing can also help you start to bring your customers’ language into the team by (literally) listening to the words they use to describe our concept and the problem you are aiming to solve for them.

Learn how to run Think Out Loud studies in the UserZoom Academy.

Question 3: Can users find items on the screen?

Answered with a screenshot click test – that shows users a flat design and presents them with a task or tasks to complete followed by some questions.

You can take an example Click Test here.

They’re fast to setup (20 mins max). Simply upload a flat image of each version, set the tasks and questions and it’s ready to run. You can even stitch together multiple images to make a semi-functional prototype and set success and failure areas within each image.

Click tests are also used to evaluate first impressions and first clicks on concepts, wireframes and website screenshots to improve clarity, impact and comprehension. You can get a really useful heat map out the other end, (like the one below), as well as answers to questions you ask users, e.g. “What do you expect to happen next?”

Question 4: Are there usability issues with a prototype?

Answered with a Basic Usability Test, which captures in the moment spoken thoughts from users as they interact with prototypes such as InVision, Axure or UXPin. You set the tasks, and ask follow up questions, and then watch the videos to extract the insight.

Watch this one minute intro video to find out more:

Basic usability tests can be run with as few as five participants (especially if you’re iterating the design), and are one of the best ways to identify points of friction that can be eradicated well before product teams finalise designs.

They are fast to setup and the videos will be available quickly, but you should set aside a little time to watch the videos and extract the insight – two hours for five videos should be enough. It’s easy to bookmark key moments of insight too, so you can quickly share the friction points with the rest of the product team:

Question 5. Should we use design A or B?

Answered with a Basic Usability study where users interact with version A and version B of your prototype, thinking aloud as they do so and answering follow up questions after about their experience.

After using each variant you can use metrics like qxScore or simply ask for perceived ease of use (just like in the example below) or ask for their preference and why they preferred one over another.

Many teams consider these types of studies like pre-live AB Tests that give them rapid insight to make fast design decisions and (just as usefully) stop the team wasting time and energy debating which direction to take.

What does this all mean for researchers?

With Product Teams running their own tactical testing, Research practitioners are freed-up to focus on the larger scale strategic pieces such as competitor benchmarking, diary studies and customer interviews. Higher value research that can generate more relevant user stories and has a broader impact.

Find out more

If you’re already a UserZoom customer please reach out to your research partner who can help you get your product teams up and running with testing within design sprints.

If you’re not a customer, but want to find out how the platform can support testing within Agile then please get in touch.

Main article image by Max Bender