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Nichakorn Nutcharoen
is a UX researcher at Morphosis. She is responsible for gathering and analyzing data on the target users to better guide product design process.

12 Usability Testing Checklist for Moderators

Published on 16 Aug 2022 in

Usability testing yields excellent results when done with careful planning and preparation. So when moderating a qualitative usability test, there are a lot of things to do and say, and it's easy to forget the important details. As a result, researchers frequently use checklists or facilitation guide. 

To help you get started with creating an efficient strategy for usability testing, we have compiled a set of 12 checklists for you to use.

1. Greet the Participant

Whether you’re hosting an in-person or a remote session, start by Introducing yourself and thanking the participant for volunteering to help with your research. 

Because some participants might be anxious and unsure of what to expect, it's important to put them at ease. Avoid using the word "test" since it might cause some participants to think they are being evaluated. (Keep in mind that we're testing the design, not the users!) Rather, call the meeting “research" or a "study.”

2. Double Check the Pronunciation of the Participant’s Name 

Using the participant's name at the start of the session helps establish rapport and puts them at ease. In addition, you may need to stop the participant or get their attention during the session. Therefore, at the beginning of the session, ask the participant how to pronounce their name, especially if it's foreign to you or could be pronounced in a variety of ways. If necessary, make a note of the pronunciation. 

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3. State the Purpose of the Research

The goal of usability research is to test an aspect of a product or service. What is being tested will be established by an internal team and might require the participation of people to test out a product. Letting the participant know what their role is and making it clear that they are just there to test a product helps establish trust and will make them more likely to help.

4. Explain the limitations of the testing product

When doing research involving a prototype, it is important to note that prototypes have limitations. Depending on the final product, the prototype might be fully finished or a low-fidelity design still being iterated and improved upon. Letting your participants know about limitations such as unclickable buttons helps produce more reliable results. 

5. Inform the Participant About Observers and Recordings

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Before starting, you’ll also need to let the participant know that you will be making recordings and that researchers will be observing them during the test. The observers include you in the room, but also, depending on whether you have two-way mirrors or a live stream setup, other researchers watching remotely. Still, other researchers or designers may watch the recordings.

6. Ask the Participant to Sign the Consent Form

Along with letting the participant know about observers, you will also need to have them sign the consent form. One way to do this is to get their consent in advance. A week before the usability test, you can remind the participant about the session, brief them on what to expect, and send them the consent form in order to streamline the process on testing day.

7. Hold a Quick Interview (If Needed)

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If you need to learn more about the participant's background, conduct a brief interview. Their answers to your questions will assist you in customizing tasks for the session. For example, if you're testing an e-commerce platform, you might inquire about the participant's previous online shopping experiences. This information can help you select or customize tasks you give the participant throughout the session.

8. Establish a Think-Aloud Protocol and Manage Expectations

Because the participant has likely never participated in a usability test before, communicate what you will and won't be doing throughout the session, as well as how you'd prefer the participant to act. Before you begin the test, make sure the participant is aware of the following:

  • You will assign tasks one at a time

  • Some assignments may be brief, while others may be lengthy

  • They should go about their business as usual

  • You won't talk much and will spend most of your time taking notes

  • If they have questions, you might not be able to immediately assist them

  • You want them to think aloud while they're working

9. Assign tasks one by one

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It’s a good idea to give the participant a written version of each assignment, especially if your activities include scenarios with a lot of information to complete. You can provide them via a chat interface or printed slips of paper, depending on whether the session is remote or in person. Allow the participant to keep the description of the task so that they can refer back to it if necessary.

Before attempting the activity, make sure the person understands it. The best way to determine this is to have them read it out loud. Having participants read each task out loud can be further encouragement for them to think aloud.

10. Follow Up With More Questions

After the participant completes each exercise, you may want to ask them prepared follow-up questions, such as the following:

  • Have you considered completing this activity on the website you just visited?

  • Is there anything about this task that you found easy or difficult?

Questions like these provide more details about the task. Before asking focused questions about the interface, start with broad, open-ended questions.

11. Check Whether Observers Have Questions

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Before ending the session, also ask the participant whether they have any questions. While their questions might not be relevant to your research, you might learn something new or unexpected, as the participant won’t be focusing on answering specific questions during this time. Thus, it can help you see any blind spots you might have had in your interview process.

12. Thank the Participant and End the Session

Finally, wrap up the session and thank the participant for their help making the product you are working on better. You can also tell them more about the next step if they are interested. Then, when you have finished interviewing each participant, it is time to compile the information you’ve gathered to analyze and give to the product designers to implement.

By following this process, you’ll be able to test the assumptions that a product’s designers have about it, see how real users interact with it, and gain real insights into the usability of the product you are testing.

Final Thoughts

The above usability testing checklist will provide you with the foundational knowledge necessary to initiate a usability test.

Although, it's important to keep in mind that there's a lot more to usability testing. Our article on writing good usability testing questions is a must-read for more useful information on conducting a usability test.

At Morphosis, we are not only well equipped to investigate user-related issues at scale but we are also able to effectively solve them with our innovative UX strategies. To learn more about how we can help you grow your business, contact our team of experts today to get a free consultation.

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