How to ask the right usability testing questions

What are the right questions to ask for a good usability study? Part 5 of our guide explains.

Psychologist Carl Jung famously said: “To ask the right question is already half the solution to a problem.”

That’s the number-one rule of usability testing: make sure you ask the right questions so your testing participants deliver valuable insights. 

After all, a whole session can easily go to waste if your questions are difficult to understand or lead the user off-piste. 

Top tips for the best usability testing questions

Below, we’ve created a handy list of things to keep in mind as you develop questions for your usability testing discussion guide.

You’ll notice we’ve said guide and not script. This is intentional. 

In a moderated usability test, it’s totally fine to deviate slightly from your planned questions so that you can probe user behaviors and answers in real-time.

In an unmoderated test, you’ll need to be much more precise in your instructions and explain the context well so that the questions, scenarios and tasks make sense to the user without further clarification. For these tests, a script is a must! 

Ok, now that we’ve got that covered, here are the top tips to bear in mind for great usability testing questions. 

  • Decide whether you will lead with a quantitative or qualitative questioning approach. For quantitative questions, use scales or multiple-choice options for answers. For qualitative, ask open-ended questions to avoid users giving “yes” or “no” answers. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions and blend qualitative and quantitative together! For example, if a user completes a task by choosing one action over another, you can ask them why they made this decision and how they found the experience.
  • Be mindful not to lead participants by adding suggestions at the end of questions, as this can skew your results! 
  • For task-based activities, ask users to show you how they would complete an action rather than instructing them how to do it. 

Next up…

Click next to access your very own usability testing template & checklist, which will help you prepare for a successful research study.