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: Which of these flat design versions should we pursue, and which should we ditch?

Answered with a click test – that shows each participant one of the design versions 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: 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 2: Where is there user friction with this prototype we’re working on?

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 UX Pin. 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 3: Before we start designing, what’s most important to customers?

Answered with a survey, which allows you to ask a wide variety of questions and also present users with multimedia images and video to get feedback on. 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 4. How should we group content (like menus) so it makes sense to customers?

Answered with a card sort where you present users with a list of ‘cards’ (item labels) on the left hand side of the screen, and they drag them to the right to sort them into categories.

You can take an example card sort here.

You can use Card Sorts to learn how users expect information to be grouped and what those groups should be called, they’re often used for redesigning menus. The study results help you quickly pinpoint where users agreed and disagreed on grouping:

Product teams can choose from two types of card sort, depending on what it us they need to find out:

  • Closed Card Sort = you name the category headings, users sort cards into them
  • Open Card Sort = users sort cards into categories that they name

They’re super quick to set up – no designs are needed, just a list of items that can be copied and pasted into the UserZoom platform.

Question 5. Can users quickly find what they need from our proposed new menus?

Answered with a tree test of the new navigation, to pinpoint where people struggle. Here you present users a with text only menu structure and then tasks, to see if they can navigate successfully through the menu. You can test your live menu, or one that’s in development and even A/B test a proposed structure vs an existing one using effectiveness and efficiency metrics.

You can take an example tree test here.

Tree tests are very quick to set up (30 minutes max) – you only need the names of the items you want users to find, meaning you can test your ideas before spending time on visual design. Analysis is fast – you’ll quickly see where people struggled (and where they didn’t).

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.

Image by Max Bender