Diving into UI/UX – Part 2: How to Perform UI/UX Testing


The first part of this series covered the importance of UI/UX. Now it’s time to put those principles to good use!

When you’re building a new website, a piece of software, or any digital product or device, it’s crucial to use UI/UX testing at multiple stages of the design process. 

It’s true that it takes time and can seem superfluous when you’re up against a deadline. But here’s the thing… Going without UI/UX testing would be a mistake because it will end up costing you more in the long run. 

Even though it requires an investment of time and money, the ROI makes it more than worth it.

Why Is UI/UX Testing Important?

Two team members leaning over desk covered in documents brainstorming about UX design

The point of doing UI/UX testing is to acquire feedback early in the game so that you can see what isn’t working before you incur the costs of the build. If you wait to do such testing until after you build your product, it’ll be extremely expensive to fix any issues.

This is not rocket science, folks!

And yet, too many marketers, project managers, and engineers make this mistake, and it costs them so much time and money as a result…

By running a UI/UX test, you can accomplish the following:

…and, of course, save time and money in the long run. 

Want a stat?

Research by Nielsen Norman Group found that when a mere 10% of a redesign budget was distributed to user testing, the product usability increased by 135% on average.

What about a case study? 

We have one of those too…

You’ve probably used a website or piece of software and ran into a question. After searching the company’s support forum, you likely got frustrated and just put in a support ticket. 

Mozilla Firefox experienced this issue over and over again from their users, so they did some testing and redesigned their forum to improve discoverability. After just nine weeks, they were able to reduce their support questions by a whopping 70%.

When to Perform a UI/UX Test

The ideal way to do UI/UX testing is to think of it as a series of tests instead of a one-off. For example, you might perform tests at the following key points:

  1. At the prototype stage to identify what needs to be fixed before you get to a point when it would be too expensive to do so
  2. At the final build stage to identify issues that didn’t show up at the prototype stage

In any case, the sooner you run a test, the better ROI you will achieve.

How to Perform UI/UX Testing 

The way you perform your UI/UX test is obviously going to depend on the type of product you are testing. But, for the sake of simplicity, let’s look at some general steps…

1) Develop Your Plan

Most things are more successful when they are mapped out beforehand with a plan, and that is especially true for UI/UX testing. Think about the following questions to help you develop your plan of action:

2) Create a Script

By creating a script, it will get you to think more clearly about what is being tested so that you can better articulate the goals of the test. It will also make the whole process more organized, putting your participants at ease and helping you to maintain consistency with all participants.

Break your script up as follows:

  1. Introduction – Explain what is being tested and why. Help the participants understand that it isn’t them that is being tested but instead the product so that they feel more at ease.
  2. Test Outline – Next, you want to set up a scenario for the participant to play out. For example, if you’re testing out your new e-commerce website design, you might say something like, “You’re looking to purchase an electric toothbrush and some replacement heads for it. Your budget is $150 and you’re shopping for a family of 4.” You might want to create a different scenario for each of your customer avatars.

3) Find Your Participants

Now that you know the scope of the UI/UX testing you’re going to do, you can start seeking out your participants. And you do want to make sure you hire the right people for this job.

Your participants should match your ideal customers as much as possible, so create a profile for the type of person you’re looking for, including gender, age, income, interests, etc.

You can use the Usability Test Screener doc from usability.gov to assist you here.

Remember, results of any test or study are skewed with a sample size that is too small, so you need to make sure you have enough participants to make the data valuable. 

4) Run the Test

Business UI/UX designers displaying mobile device next to document outlining website user experience on mobile

Now that you have all of the preparatory work out of the way, it’s time you run your UI/UX test and start collecting data. As we mentioned above, it’s important to record the tests so that you can look back to them afterwards (making sure to ask for permission from your participants).

As your participants go through the test, DO NOT interject. You want to get data that is based on the user not having any assistance so that you can get accurate information.

You might want to leave the room if you feel you’ll be tempted to step in and guide them.

Make sure that your participants understand that anything that goes wrong during the test is the product’s fault, not theirs, and that the whole point of the test is to find those issues.

5) Get Their Response

The results you get from this test will come from observations of how the participants act when performing the test and listening to what they have to say about it. So, here’s where you listen.

Directly after the test, ask them to give you their observations by asking them the following questions:

6) Make the Necessary Changes

Once your usability test is completed, it’s time to use the data you acquired to improve your product. Get busy making the changes necessary to improve the areas that received a negative response.

There is no place for an ego here… 

Set aside any hurt feelings you’re experiencing from finding out that your product isn’t perfect (News flash: No product is!) and use the valuable information you obtained to get it as close to perfect as you can. 

The key is to make your website or software as easy and enjoyable as possible for people to interact with, and you’ve just armed yourself with some powerful information to help you do that.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, UI/UX testing doesn’t have to be complicated or slow you down. What it will do, however, is push you ahead of your competition and ensure you create a product that people will be excited to use. 

Check out the third and final part of this series to learn what UI/UX tools are recommended!


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Filed Under: Tools & Technology

About Lindsey Perron

As Thomas’ daughter, Lindsey was introduced to the world of sales and marketing at an early age. Curious about what her dad did, Lindsey would jump at every opportunity to help and ride along on sales calls. Always quick to take charge and lead the group—a trait that has only grown with time—Lindsey was frequently told by her parents that she was destined to be a manager or CEO of some sort. While working toward earning her bachelor’s degree in human services from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Lindsey interned with the UW Office of Equality and Affirmative Action and served on several councils, which gave her the opportunity to develop her persuasive writing skills, researching skills, problem-solving skills, project management skills, and more. After working as the lead teacher of the 4-year-old room at the local daycare center, Lindsey decided to switch gears and join the Viral Solutions team. In her position, Lindsey is able to help clients think through an end goal and reverse engineer it into the steps needed to achieve it.

When she’s not working, Lindsey loves spending time with family, be it traveling somewhere together or just hanging out at home.