Five common user testing mistakes and how to avoid them
Have you ever heard from a customer that your software was buggy, slow, or unreliable? Or that a particular feature wasn’t working exactly as intended? You are not alone. Every software company, product, and development team has experienced customer feedback at some point. But the best time to get this kind of user-generated feedback is before the product goes to market, not after.
Most organizations complete user testing with employees (called internal testing) or with real customers at various stages of the software development process to eliminate problems and improve the user experience. However, not all user testing is created equal. And therein lies the problem.
There are a number of common errors that can occur during the testing process that make it difficult for software developers to receive enough useful data to design the right product solution. Sometimes mistakes are made due to a lack of standardization or consistency in the testing process. It can often be missing crucial testing steps, failing to follow up properly with testers, or an inability to determine the most useful feedback from a large amount of user input.
Here are five common mistakes that appear during user testing and how anyone managing user testing can avoid them to save time, money, and headaches. After all, the ultimate goal is to run a large test and improve the software before you start it.
Mistake 1: Not starting with a plan
Not starting software testing with a plan usually means you’ll end the test with scattered results that don’t support your goals. As tempting as it may be to jump into testing what you think you need to test without a comprehensive plan, planning is critical to successful user testing. Meet with stakeholders and determine what you hope to learn from user testing. Balance this against the time you have to complete the test and use your experience with the product to determine what will have the most impact on the customer experience. With this information, you can start planning which features you will test and how long each test will run.
Your plan should also include the test criteria you’ll need to ensure you test all the necessary features. For example, if one of your testing goals is to see how your software will perform on mobile devices, you should plan this requirement in a tester segment. Additionally, you may need to plan for iOS and Android users for tester ratings.
The plan should also include the testing schedule of when the recruiting process begins, when testing will officially begin, which surveys will be sent out, and when you will have status meetings with stakeholders. Take the time to plan your test to make sure you have a clear understanding of the goals, expectations, and where everyone’s role is.
Error no. 2: Use a one-size-fits-all feedback form
Valuable feedback from testers not only helps identify and fix bugs. It allows testers to share honest opinions about how a software application works. These comments include ideas to help improve the software, issues related to coding and user experience, and praise for features that users like best. While some of these statistics may not be as pressing as a critical bug, these insights and praise contextualize issues, strengthen the product roadmap, and indicate what’s working and what could be improved.
But collecting this level of feedback requires developers and test managers to customize feedback forms for each user testing project. Setting up forms correctly and customizing them for each product and test helps teams efficiently analyze user information while prioritizing fixes. With generic or one-size-fits-all test forms, test managers run the risk of missing critical feedback that might not fit into a standard test feedback form.
Mistake 3: Data in silos
There are two key reasons why centralized feedback data is critical to the success of any test. First, with so much information coming in, engineers and QA teams need to see everything in context. Placing data across multiple spreadsheets, emails, and software platforms makes it difficult to interpret aggregated feedback to properly address important fixes or report test progress.
Second, if data resides in numerous different systems, this presents privacy issues. When a tester decides they no longer want to participate in a test, companies are legally required to clean up all places where the tester’s data is located. Storing data between systems makes it more difficult (and legally binding) to ensure that the right data is removed from all systems.
Although many testers still use heavy manual processes, it is beneficial to invest in a modern testing platform that centralizes all testing data. This can greatly reduce the time spent manually copying, pasting and merging data into other systems like Jira, which means less lag between identifying issues and when developers and engineers fix or fix them. It also ensures that the tester’s data is secure and reduces privacy concerns.
Additionally, using a platform that centralizes data provides clean dashboards that can help test teams quickly analyze user feedback, monitor progress, and develop and share test reports. Help incorporate feedback from testers into the software and provide answers to questions asked by stakeholders.
Error 4: Tester burnout
Testers are busy. They are balancing product testing time with daily activities like work, school, dinner, picking up the kids from sports, etc. It is important not to ask too much of the testers, as this may discourage them from completing the test or offer them less, less. detailed comments.
The number of features tested and the time required to test them varies by software and tester, but on average, testers will be able to complete three to four feature tests per week. And while it’s tempting to squeeze as much out of a tester as possible, managing the time they spend testing will ensure valuable, detailed feedback that can help make the product better. As a starting point, consider how long users typically interact with your product and add an hour of padding for testers to perform test-specific activities and provide feedback.
Mistake 5: Not thanking the testers
Testers are volunteers, and the best volunteers do the work because they are passionate about helping. That said, their hard work should not be taken for granted. After all, you need their ideas much more than your testing experience. It is important to reward testers for their dedication to improving a product.
Some great ideas for saying “thank you” are coupon codes, early access to new features, and branded swag. Even a heartfelt thank you note or recognition on social media can be enough to make testers feel special and appreciated. Test teams want testers to leave with a good impression of working with your brand, so they’ll be willing to help next time.
In general, making sure you’re engaging with testers and responding to them throughout the process (aka closing the feedback loop) will show that you’re actively involved in their experience. This ultimately leads to better tester engagement, higher quality feedback, and greater brand loyalty.