Why real-life usability testing is so important (and fun!)

I’ve loved my morning so much I had to get it off my chest; I’ve done some usability testing with my husband. Yep, you read that right.

I’ve been tasked to complete a UX audit for a well-known brand that allow you to book MOT services online. For once, my husband is their target audience. Even though they aren’t expecting (nor have we charged for) usability testing, I wanted to go above and beyond in my work (and get massive enjoyment out of it, too).

How do you know what to test?

Start by asking what the goals are; what should the user be able to do on this page & what are they expecting? What is the journey they should ideally take? What are the KPIs? Always think about the user and your client – how do the improvements benefit both?

So for this client, the goal is for the user to be able to book an MOT online at a garage. The user inputs their reg and postcode, which then shows a list of services available (MOT, service, MOT & service), and garages that are the nearest.

How does the testing take place?

I told my husband that I’d like him to book an MOT on the client’s website. I suggested he Google search it, and luckily the client came up. He searched for “book mot” which is exactly, what he says he would do.

I watched as he used the site, knowing it thoroughly myself. It’s easy to ask leading questions but that’ll seriously harm the outputs, so questions such as “what are you doing” “what content does that show” “is that useful to you” helps the user think about the page but without judgement from you.

If the user thinks they are being tested themselves or judged, they aren’t going to be as comfortable or show genuinely how they would use the site.

The results

He found things I hadn’t; such as “yes that’s my nearest garage but what if I prefer another garage that’s only an extra 2 miles away but has shops I’d prefer to visit – how do I find that garage instead of this one?”. Recommending alternatives in a subtle way is so important should the 1st result not be relevant.

If you aren’t building things based on user research, how do you know what the users’ problems are and if your designs will help remove those blockers? Yes you can ask for opinions from colleagues which is definitely better than nothing (you’ll probably get good insights) but talking to the customer is the best chance you’ve got to ensure they get the best experience from you as possible.

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