User testing will truly revolutionize how your team builds products. We aim to make both basic and advanced tests painless.
Building a site or app where business and customer goals align is tough. Prospects can misunderstand what you want them to do, get stuck, and give up. User testing is how you detect these problems before they reach production.
User tests can also be called "usability tests" or "UX tests" and are a form of user experience research. Whatever name you prefer all user tests share the same common elements.
The elements of every test
All usability tests boil down to the following steps:
- Give someone things to try
- Watch what they do
- See if they succeed, hesitate or have questions
- Try to understand what's behind their issues
That's the gist, and, of course, there are many ways to vary this, but at its core user testing is about watching, listening and learning. It is about observing people.
Creating a basic user test in SoundingBox
The first thing to do is create an account if you haven't already. You won't be asked for a credit card until you're ready to launch your study to participants.
After you log in you'll see an option to create your study.
On the first step, tell us a little more about what you would like to test. If you've got a live website, a website prototype, or a mobile app prototype, just let us know here. Any prototyping platform that lets you export your prototype to a public URL (Invision, Axure, and so on) is supported. (That URL gets entered later when you specify your tasks.)
Next, under the type of test, choose Basic Usability Test. We'll give you options to choose the number of participants and the type of device or devices (desktop, or mobile, including Android and iOS) you would like the participant to use.
Thinking out loud
Another critical ingredient is asking the participant to think out loud as they work. Think aloud is an option presented early in the process, and it adds a little cost since we need to incentivize participants a bit more. If you're not sure you need it, we recommend it for all basic user tests because it gives you a much richer picture of what people think while they interact with your prototype.
Seems pretty straightforward. Give someone something to try (we usually call these "tasks") and see how they do. But where do you find these people? How many people should you test? Screening participants is how we find participants who match your exact profile.
How user testing differs from other methods
As we've mentioned, user testing goes by other names like user testing, UX testing, or user research. All of these processes are more or less the same: they help you see your app or site through the eyes of someone else.
User testing differs from other forms of research or data collection. It differs from surveys that ask about satisfaction with a product. Surveys typically don't capture behaviors (what people do and don't do)—observations that can be super helpful for figuring out what went wrong and why. It also differs from things like Google analytics. Unlike analytics, user testing lets you get at the "why"—the reasons behind what people do— more than what happened (the pages they visited, for example).
You're well on your way to creating your first user test using SoundingBox! Read on to dive in a little deeper. One quick way to get started is to choose from one of our expert-designed pre-made study templates. There's even one made especially for basic user or usability tests.
Another note on naming: all of the things you can do (the types of tests) are what we call a study.
- Learn more about what you can test, how much it will cost, and how long it will take.
- Every study is composed of tasks and questions. Learn more about how to structure your study here.
- See what it will be like to analyze your results.
Going beyond the basics
User testing is critical to any project's success, but it isn't always the best approach for answering every question. To put it another way, making your app or site usable only gets you so far. An app can be easy to use but still rub people the wrong way, for example. Sometimes we want to learn about things that are hard for people to notice or articulate consciously. These are some of the reasons why we created split tests—to provide a workflow for going beyond basic user tests to get at tougher questions.