When you’re doing everything right to try to make your product or service better, you should be conducting task-based usability tests with real users, and of course you’re also filming those tests so you can show video highlights to convince the team or the stakeholders, or the company’s executives, that these findings must be acted upon. The way you present findings from these sessions is just as important as doing them in the first place. Remember, you are the person/the team/the department that is reporting the bad news: something is broken. So you have to make sure you are strategic about how you present that message so that it doesn’t fall on defensive ears.
But what is the best way to work with these vital assets and get full support for making the fixes?
ORGANIZING THE FINDINGS
Start with the Good News
Some components of nearly any system are likely to be well designed and working to the satisfaction of the users. User testing can provide great examples of the places where the system succeeds, so why not open with those highlights. Use video excerpts to show the happy faces of users succeeding as they accomplish certain tasks. Showcase success before you dive into the problems.
The tasks outlined in your test scenarios will likely cover many aspects of the system interface. Once you have results data (success vs. fail) from the test sessions, make sure you group your findings in a way that is logical and organized according to feature (sign-up process, user profile, etc. etc.) Then rank the findings by level of importance.
There are two levels to the prioritization game and you have to organize your findings with these two aspects of prioritization in mind:
How important is this problem to the stakeholders or to the organization as a whole?
Don’t sweat the small stuff right out of the gate. Some problems/findings matter more than others and acknowledging that up front will help you gain support.
How easy/hard is this problem to fix?
- Is this a big problem with an easy fix?
- A small problem with a complex fix?
- A big problem with a complex fix?
Severity matters. Show-stopping problems must be addressed immediately, but when you present the findings lead with the important problems that have an easy (or easier) fix. Your audience of stakeholders will be buoyed by the possibility that some important items can be easily ticked off the to-do list with minimal effort. So then, when you arrive at the items that require a more complex redesign, they should be primed to roll up their sleeves and dive in to the hard stuff.
And remember, not every finding needs to be covered in the presentation to the larger group. Some items just end up on a punch list to be resolved over time.
HOW TO TALK ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED
- Show the fail: When test scenarios are well written the results are gold. A clip showing a user failing at a specific task is evidence of what went wrong. Showing clips of users, one after another, failing at the same point in the same task reinforces the point that something is broken, and you are merely the messenger. Video clips bring the stakeholders into the test session even if they were nowhere near. Show a handful of fail clips for each task that matters: 3–5. Show clips that are specific, focusing on the task, not just a highlight reel of frustrated users. Show the clip that illustrates your point, not some broad, overarching idea. This helps you to show the fail in the context of the part of the system where it belongs. And if you don’t know Truthlab can provide you these clips in an automated way!
- Be specific when describing the fail; Don’t pussy foot around what went wrong. What was the user trying to do and what happened when they tried? Saying the sign-up form “doesn’t work” isn’t helpful. Reporting that “users cannot distinguish that there is a ‘next’ button at the bottom of the form or that they don’t understand the parameters of the password requirements without prompts” is specific information that can be acted upon.
- Present a proposed fix along with the problem: The goal of usability testing is not just to uncover the problems but to also help the team understand the nuances of the problems and what can be done to remedy the failures. Make test result findings actionable.
For each failure you present, walk the audience through these three things in detail:
- What happened?
- Why does it matter?
- What can be done to remedy the problem?
And remember: great data comes from great task scenarios
User testing is a GOBO (garbage in/garbage out) activity. If don’t set up great task scenarios, you won’t get great useful test results. So, start by learning how to write great questions. Here are some resources to get you started:
- How to Write User Testing Tasks: https://strategyanddesign.co/how-to-write-user-testing-tasks/