How to scale up your new user testing skills

There are times when conducting one-to-one testing is just not feasible, especially when you’re at the point where you want to test a lot of users at once or on an ongoing basis.

It’s tough to know when and how to start scaling your testing, but with your swanky new testing skills, you are a lot closer to scaling up your tests than you think.

If you’re looking for less of a hands-on approach or looking to collect massive amounts of insights at once, there are plenty of methods and products out there to help you move into the big leagues of testing so you can efficiently scale up usability testing on your own.

Let’s dive in, shall we?



Unmoderated user testing

What is an unmoderated user test?

Unmoderated user testing is any test where no facilitator is present while the participant completes tasks or answers questions. Since no one else is present during the study, unmoderated tests are usually conducted using a software application that guides users, records their actions, and asks predetermined follow-up questions.

This type of testing works best if you need to validate designs quickly with a large group of participants. Use unmoderated interviews if you have specific questions you need to be answered, you need feedback in a rush, or if you need a large sample size.

How do they work?

Unmoderated interviews allow the participants to complete their testing remotely, at their own pace, on their own time, wherever they want. And since you are not required to be present during each test, you can issue a large number of tests at once and, in return, test a large sample of your targeted users with little effort. Unmoderated testing is also likely to be more cost-effective than having to set up multiple individual tests and be present to facilitate.

While not having to be present during testing might sound glorious, it does come with some drawbacks.

First, you leave the control in the hands of the participant. Sometimes the feedback you receive can be all over the place or too broad to offer the level of insight you need. You also can’t instantly ask a participant for clarification on their answer, ask follow-up questions that may lead to big insights or provide clarity to your questions if your participant gets confused.

Second, you have less say in who you might be testing, and let’s face it, some people can be terrible testers providing you only half-baked feedback. On the other hand, you might have little control over how much feedback you receive and parsing through large amounts of data can be slow and tedious.

When to do unmoderated user testing

Unmoderated user testing is best used when you are comfortable relinquishing control over the test and when you have a comprehensive prototype or even coded version of the thing you're testing. That’s why unmoderated testing really shines when the flow of your test is simple and the goal of what you want to achieve is straightforward.

Some best use cases are:

  • Copy feedback: learn how copy makes users feel or see if it leads them to take the action it’s intended to or if it leads to confusion. You can also uncover what words people don’t like and discover phrases that resonate more with the user.
  • Basic usability questions: any user experience that doesn’t require deep user insights. This could be to check if users can log in, navigate to a specific page or complete a submission form. You can also compare the usability of two similar versions to see which one users like more.
  • Testing final prototypes: uncover any last missed bugs, hang-ups or anything that doesn’t require deep user insights to improve before launch.
  • Looking for large amounts of feedback: if you need to gather more data on any of the three scenarios above and want to test a broader sample of users.

Note: If the prototype has lots of deadends or doesn't feel "real" enough, your test is more likely to fail. To cross your Is and dot your Ts, head back to Step 3 where we discuss how to build a functional test.

Where to start

If you’re ready to give unmoderated interviews a try, we suggest starting with a platform like Usertesting.com. Usertesting.com lets you choose a target audience to watch as they use your product. You’ll be able to hear them explain their actions in real-time as they interact with a product. Whether it’s prototypes, websites, mobile apps, or even real-world experiences, it’s pretty awesome to witness real-time interaction without ever having to be present for the test.



UX surveys

What is a UX survey?

Need to gather feedback on a live product, gather data about your targeted users or investigate their needs and wants? Surveys, forms and questionnaires are relatively quick and simple methods to all of that. They let you issue a set of questions to collect specific information from a sample of your target user. While the method for issuing a survey is a pretty straightforward approach to gathering feedback (heck, we’ve all filled out a plethora of them in our lifetime), they can render completely useless if you are not careful with your questioning. Let’s dive a little deeper:

When are UX surveys most effective?

Surveys are super fast to make and send. And in return, users can quickly answer questions and deliver their feedback on a wide range of topics. Even better, they can be anonymous, which is useful when a level of anonymity will help gain richer feedback. You can issue them to as many people as you’d like without having to be there while they fill them out (talk about efficiency and cost-effectiveness). Perhaps best of all, surveys are a great tool to help inform your design or to help decide what you ask in in-person testing that you may be conducting later.

Surveys, however, fall short when you need to ask follow-up questions when a response gives very little detail. And there’s nothing worse than when someone fills out a survey that ends up generating more questions for you than answers. *Face Palm*.

In our experience, the best time to issue surveys is early on when you are trying to understand users more generally, ie. when you’re in your research phase. For example:

  • Before you jump into building/design
  • When you’re trying to define who your users are or defining what problem they are experiencing
  • Before you kick off usability testing.

Pro tips for building successful survey questions

It’s important to ensure that the data and inputs you get out of your surveys are easy to read and analyze while providing the insight you are looking for. The structure of the questions in your survey will influence how the data will come out at the other end of the test session so be sure to use the right type of questions for the data you want to collect.

Close-ended questions like multiple choice or single select options help clearly identify how people respond since users are limited to the options you provide. This will provide data into how people feel about something, but won’t likely provide insight into the ‘why’ behind their response. Which, depending on the insights you need, would incredibly be valuable.

On the other end of the spectrum, open text field questions allow people to offer more detailed personal responses, providing deep insights into the ‘why’ behind their answers. However, analyzing these responses is somewhat trickier and requires more time to process so open text fields should be limited to questions that require deeper thought and opinion.

Where to start:

There are plenty of great online survey builders out there that are easy to use and completely customizable. Whether you’re a research pro or just getting started here are a few of our favourites to get you off the ground.

Google survey: This is a great starting point for creating simple surveys. It provides unlimited surveys, unlimited respondents, and data is automatically collected in Google Spreadsheets. Surveys can be embedded into emails or websites.

Jotform: There are multiple packages available depending on your needs. With the free version, you have access to 5 surveys and 100 monthly submissions. Paid versions offer more surveys, more monthly submissions, unlimited storage for response collection, and customizable branding among other features.

Surveymonkey: This well-designed platform is pretty easy to use and it gives you the option to embed surveys. However, unless you purchase the paid version, there is a limit to the number of questions and responses you can have and you are not permitted to export your data.

Typeform: The free version offers some great features, especially unlimited questions and answers. Their interface is also quite attractive and you can export all your data, even with the free version.



Customer feedback software

Looking to conduct ongoing tests of user experience on your website, prototype, app or software? Implementing unmoderated testing with customer feedback software will help you do just that.

What is feedback software?

Feedback software is designed to help businesses collect, measure, and analyze customer feedback right on your website or product’s interface. These are tools that allow you to collect valuable insight from customers while they are interacting with your product. They can help you understand how your customers feel about your product, lets them show you their pain points and directs you to areas that need to be improved.

How does it work?

The software allows your users to provide feedback on your site or product without you having to prepare questions, be present or interact with them at all. Through a widget, people will identify bugs and usability issues you would never have found on your own. This is especially useful for instances when every customer’s journey is different, making it impossible to test all potential situations. Widgets also help you connect with people who are passionate about your product since they are already users. That way, if you ever need to conduct in-person testing, you already have trusted users to facilitate testing with.

Similar to other methods of unmoderated testing, feedback widgets will provide you with a high volume of feedback, a lot of which will be similar. Also, widgets do not allow for instant interactions with the users, so it is impossible to ask the user any follow-up questions or seek clarification on what they say to you.

Adding widgets to your product also opens up feedback to any individual who tries your product or visits your website, meaning you might get feedback from undesirable users and even receive harsh messages.

But! Sometimes the people who leave the angriest message are the most passionate about your product. Don’t get discouraged by outraged feedback. Instead, prioritize following up with these people. You are likely to find they are your biggest allies when they are heard.

When to use feedback software

Feedback software is worthwhile when your website already has a good amount of traffic or your product already has a large user base. This software is meant for when people come to you. It does not require you to recruit or send tests to people first. So, if your website or app doesn’t have a lot of traffic, you won’t get much feedback.

Use software when you’re looking for feedback on general usability testing, want a heads up if someone comes across a bug, or if you’re just looking for user feedback on a long-term basis. Also, feedback software can only be used when your app or website is live. Software is meant for improving an established product over time, so don’t use them in the prototyping stages or during the design and research phase.

Get Started:

In the world of feedback software, Usersnap is one of the top web applications for generating feedback, efficiently from your users. It integrates seamlessly with any website or app and compiles data into one easy-to-use dashboard. Set up is straightforward with feedback options ready to be implemented right away. Users can report a bug, provide general feedback, or contact support just by clicking on the widget that you add to your site. When a user launches the widget and selects the type of feedback they want to give, they can screenshot the area on the site where they are having issues and provide a comment.

Once feedback is collected into your dashboard, Usersnap lets you assign a task to the team member who is in charge of it, making it perfect for cross-team collaboration and easy project management.

Usersnap also lets you add customizable feedback forms that allow you to collect relevant and valuable product insights by issuing feedback surveys through website pop-ups. And lastly, but potentially most empowering, Usersnap allows for users to suggest new features that they would like in your product, removing any of the guesswork as to what your users want.



The takeaways

Moving away from one-on-one testing is an opportunity to conduct more user tests with more people at the same time. In addition to one-on-one testing, one of the three methods outlined above will surely help guide your course in acquiring a variety of insights to improve your product.

Don’t forget user testing is never a one-and-done event. We encourage you to continue to implement your new skills to conduct continuous tests, both big and small, in-person and scaled. We promise you’ll always discover new ways to upgrade your product to better achieve product-market fit and build something people can’t (or don’t want to) live without.

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