“How well we communicate is determined not by how well we say things, but how well we are understood.” – Andy Grove, Intel Corporation Former CEO
Creating great tasks for user tests is both an art and a science.
The tasks that you select need to be unambiguous, and free from interpretation. This is especially important for unmoderated user tests—when participants are on their own. For these tests, you won’t have the opportunity to clarify any of the scenarios or terms used, so they must be crystal clear.
Great user testing scenarios are based on real user or customer goals, they’re actionable, they point in a certain direction, and they avoid giving clues or describing how to complete the task.
Early on, you generally want to focus on the happy path—your site or product’s main flow—to iron out any kinks in the core processes.
What are the most important things that every user must be able to do in your product?
Example of User Testing Scenarios
You can use a structure like the following to turn goals into scenarios:
You’d like to [ Goal ]. A friend/colleague told you about [ Site or Product Tested ]. How would you go about achieving [ Goal ] with [ Site or Product Tested ]?
You’d like to buy travel insurance. A colleague told you about SuperInsurance. How would you go about buying travel insurance using the SuperInsurance website?
This scenario works because it’s based on a real user need (buying travel insurance), it points users in a certain direction (using the SuperInsurance website), and it doesn’t mention any of the tools, site sections, or functionalities that you are hoping to test.
You can make your tasks even more engaging by making them more personal. For example, you could let participants perform the tasks for themselves.
To make sure that your tasks are clear, test them with colleagues or prospects beforehand. What do they understand? How does their understanding line up with what you’re trying to test?
Iterate until the tasks are both clear and unambiguous.
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