How many users does usability testing need?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions! The simple answer is… it depends. But, more specifically, for qualitative research, we recommend small studies with goal-directed users who represent a particular part of your user base, so that results from a small sample can be realistically compared. Our typical studies have five users in a day in one-hour sessions, with a findings meeting at the end of the day.

If you have budget for 15 to 20 users, we recommend testing with several smaller groups of users and creating scenarios that work for each user subgroup. For example, with 15 users, you could get results from three different user groups. Or, you could conduct three separate studies at different stages in the development cycle for your product.

However, if you we are conducting human factors validation testing for medical devices, FDA requires 15 participants per user group.

How do we recruit users for studies?

Unlike some companies that use market research firms to recruit users from their active database of prior participants. Our user recruiting process is highly effective in contacting and contracting your specific, targeted users who share your users’ qualities, motivation, and goals.

When it’s appropriate to recruit your users from your own customer or employee databases, we work with you to screen, schedule, and support your users in arranging for their involvement in testing.

We also typically arrange for and pay the incentive or stipend that each user receives for participation.

How do we plan a test?

Because we use a team approach to user testing, planning is the essential starting place. In a 2-hour planning meeting, with a focused agenda. Our team meets with your team to establish the essential elements for the usability test. These elements include setting goals, determining tasks (which become scenarios), determining questions to ask during testing and feedback mechanisms to use after testing, and creating the all-important user profile for recruiting the users from the specific subset(s) of the user population. We can conduct this planning meeting face to face or via web-based conferencing. Minutes of the meeting become the test protocol for the study.

Describe testing methodologies. What happens in a usability test?

A typical test session is an hour. The timeline for the hour is often like this.

  • 10 minutes—greet participant, provide orientation to the study, including coaching on “think aloud process” to learn user’s thoughts during activities with the interface
  • 40 minutes—participant works through scenarios of use, based on the plan for the study
  • 10 minutes—post-test feedback mechanisms (questionnaires, qualitative feedback instruments, interview)

Does the product need to be nearly complete to conduct testing?

Testing can take place in any stage of product development, but the earlier the better. Paper prototypes, clickable prototypes, and wireframes are just some of the products that work well for early reaction and interaction with your users.

If you wait until the product is at Alpha or Beta, you will likely find that it is too expensive and too time consuming to address the issues users uncover. When you test earlier, you can build user experience into product design. And when you test often, you can continue to refine and confirm the improvements in design, based on the results of prior testing.

Who we are

UX Firm, based in Atlanta, GA, is a usability and UX research company with clients worldwide.

The two founding partners combine decades of business and academic backgrounds to provide  practical solutions for every project.

When you hire us, you get the experts.  After all, we wrote the book!

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What we do

 Our services includes in-person and remote usability testing, human factors validation testing for medical devices, heuristic evaluation/expert reviews, diary studies, customer journey mapping workshops, persona development, surveys, in-depth interviews, focus groups, and more. We also do targeted participant recruiting, lab design consultation, and training.

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How we do it

We work with companies large and small—from Fortune 500 to startup—to learn your goals and match the method that scales to your project and timeline.

We can support your team or provide a turnkey solution.

No project is too small or too big.

Contact us to start the conversation