New to Usability Testing: Q&A with Rachel Sollis

New to Usability Testing: Q&A with Rachel Sollis

Rachel Sollis, Digital Designer at Monmouthshire Council, has recently taken part in a workshop that we, the local government digital team, have run focusing on being able to conduct usability testing to evaluate current services and prototypes.

Usability testing, as defined by Stephanie Marsh, is a commonly-used methodology where a researcher observes users who work through activities on a service to identify where problems are encountered.

This blog is a Question and Answer (Q&A) session with Rachel where she describes her experience moderating a usability test for the first time, some of the findings she took from it, and how useful she found it.

Questions and Answers

How did you find the experience of moderating usability testing?

It was a new experience for me.

The urge to fill silences was difficult to overcome, in order to let the user navigate their own pathway through the application. Also, as this was something I had built myself I was heavily invested in it; holding back from providing explanation on what was happening to the user was difficult at times.

But as the session went on, I found it easier, I encouraged the user to talk through their thoughts on the process and got some really great feedback.

What outcomes have you taken away from the usability testing session?

It was a really positive session, although there were definite areas I could improve on. Next time I will try harder to sit in the silence and resist the urge to jump in. There were a few things the user highlighted that I took back to the service area, I then made changes based on this to improve the user journey. I also spotted a few things that weren’t working as smoothly as I’d hoped and made adjustments to them.

Did you find the usability test beneficial to your project?

Really useful, both myself and the team I am developing the app for are fully aware of the process and how we are expecting it to work. By testing with an objective user I obtained a really good insight into how user-friendly it really is, when a user approaches it without prior knowledge.

What does the future of usability testing look like for Monmouthshire Council?

It is definitely something my team are doing more regularly and is providing helpful insight into the solutions that we are providing to colleagues and the public. We are working hard to embed the principles of User Centred Design (UCD), and usability testing is such an important part of this.

What advice would you offer someone who is thinking about conducting a round of usability testing for the first time?

Put the user at ease, encourage them to share their thoughts. Most importantly, I would say give it a go and just do your best, you’ll learn as you go. If you can, try to get comfortable with silence, so you get the most honest feedback from the user.

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