User Tests: 5 steps towards successful concept testing

Avatar photo Finfox 27. July 2023

Before new software features are being rolled out at Finfox, we test them with real users on the client side. The aim is to validate whether the navigation is intuitive and clear, the terms used are easy to understand and the customer journeys are effective. In the following, we will show in 5 steps what concept testing is all about and why user tests are an essential component of efficient software development.

💡 Our header image shows how AI imagines user testing (generated with DALL-E 2).

1. Methods

There are numerous methods to collect customer feedback on the usability and functionality of a new feature. At Finfox, the qualitative method of concept testing has proven to be very effective. The idea is to transform an abstract UX concept into a concrete prototype and then test it with real users.

2. Participants

Concept testing consists of several sessions. In each session, there are three roles involved: the unbiased user, who tests the UX concept by performing tasks in the prototype; the facilitator, whose role is to moderate and observe the session; and the note taker, whose task is to capture the observations.

There are different opinions on how many users should participate in a concept test. At Finfox, we follow the recommendation of Nielsen Norman Group. According to them, the magic number is 4 to 5 users to identify 80% of all possible vulnerabilities in the prototype.

The group of users should be balanced and represent the average user on the customer side.

3. Preparation

Preparation is the most critical phase of a user test. Detailed planning is time-consuming, but indispensable for the successful execution of a user test. The preparation phase includes the following tasks:

  • Recruit test users
  • Check availability, book premises and provide technical resources
  • Define possible tasks for the users along the use cases
  • Create a user script: A user script, also called a prototype script, is a meticulous flowchart with all the questions that are going to be asked during the sessions.
  • Finalize interactive prototype: Based on the concept, define all possible use cases with user flows and jobs-to-be-done and manifest them in the prototype.

4. Test session

45 to 60 minutes should be the maximum duration of a user test to ensure a highly focused session. After the welcome and introduction, we directly move on to the concept testing.

The facilitator presents the tasks to the user, who then tries to solve them along the interactive prototype. It is essential that the user thinks aloud in order to be able to comprehend his thoughts and motivation. Since there are no right or wrong answers, the think-aloud technique is essential for concept testing. It is also important to create a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere. This encourages users to express their ideas or concerns honestly and frankly. Ultimately, exactly this is what makes concept testing enormously enriching.

5. Follow-up

Subsequently after the user tests, we compare, consolidate and evaluate the notes of the individual sessions. All results are being clustered and prioritized. This helps to decide which weaknesses in the UX concept can be optimized immediately and which require prior consultation with stakeholders.

Conclusion: More efficiency and quality through consistent client centricity

User tests allow us to identify misconceptions and unfulfilled customer expectations already in the early conception phase, which is primarily hypothesis-driven, and to include them in the conception. This has a beneficial effect on the efficiency and costs of the project. The “Rule of Ten” of failure costs – a rule of thumb in quality management – states that the costs of correcting errors increase by a factor of 10 with each stage of the value chain. This means that the later in the development process an error is detected, the more expensive it is to fix it, especially if it reaches the customer undiscovered post-release.

Additionally, obtaining user feedback at an early stage significantly increases product quality, because user tests enable us to ensure that the software product delivered to the customer is optimally tailored to the needs of the users from the outset and meets the actual requirements of our customers.

“Since vulnerabilities are made visible already in the conception phase by real users, the findings from the user tests are particularly valuable to us. Our customers appreciate to be involved in the development process, too. This is exactly what we mean by delivering user-centric software solutions.”

Roman Holland
UX/Interaction Designer, Finfox

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