User testing FAQ

Thanks for considering to participate in a user test! Here are a few answers to common questions about user testing.

What is a user test?

A user test aims to see how real people use something. You can do them with anything – from a gearbox in a car to signage in a train station. I run them with websites.

Why do people run them?

We’ve all visited websites where the thing we’re looking for isn’t there, or we have to go digging a while to find it, or links don’t mean quite what we expect them to mean.

In fact, all websites have these problems, if only subtly.

It’s very hard for people working for a company to spot this. They’re far too close to a website and already know what they intend it to mean. That’s where user tests come in.

Why have I been asked?

You’re in the right audience for a particular website – and this may be quite a niche audience!

Who are you?

I’m a freelance digital marketer; I’ve been doing this for about 8 years. I help companies run these tests. I’ve run lots of them in-person and remotely – with everyone from directors of companies to professional mushroom foragers.

What happens during a user test?

People are often surprised at how simple the idea is: You’ll use a website on a laptop and do very simple tasks of the kind you do every day when visiting websites.

For example, for an online bookshop, it might be as simple as “try searching for a book you’ve read recently”.

In every case, the test is of the website, not you, so it’s essentially impossible to do anything ‘wrong’!

I always make sure the experience is interesting and enjoyable for people, and that we keep strictly to time.

How do you do them?

You can do a user test either in-person or remotely.

For in-person, all that’s needed is a table and a room (a boardroom or a side office works well). Some people do them during their lunch breaks.

For remotely, all that’s needed is for you to have a computer with Skype (for screen sharing) and a microphone (an in-built one on a laptop if fine).

I can be very flexible with times – whether you want to do the test at 5:30pm after work in the boardroom, or in the morning or evening when you’re not at work, it’s all possible.

What happens afterwards?

The recording will be used to help the people working directly on the website solve whatever problems or issues come up.

User tests are one-offs. You won’t be contacted again, and no data about you is stored or processed anywhere beyond the recording of the test.

Can I remain completely anonymous in the recording?

Yes! I can completely anonymize your identity, too, so no personally identifiable information is associated with your recording.