User testing is an incredibly versatile tool in any designer’s arsenal. With user testing, it’s possible to obtain actionable feedback to better inform and optimize designs.
For many designers, user testing is a simple matter of putting their designs in front of users, and seeing how the users fare. Often, designers do user testing merely because it is “best practice” and because it is expected of them. But often, designers find that the feedback they obtain is unclear, or just isn’t actionable.
Without clear and actionable feedback, the designer is left without a meaningful course of action to improve upon their design. In essence, the testing they did was a waste of time and resources.
So how can designers avoid the troublesome waste of time and resources on tests that yield no worthwhile results? The answer is simple: designers must determine the purpose of the test beforehand.
When a purpose has been determined, designers are able to direct the focus of every question and task to obtaining the desired kind of results. For example: if a design is being tested to obtain feedback on the imagery, designers don’t need to ask the users questions about the copy.
When tests have a clear purpose, there are no frivolous questions, and results are actionable. Precious time and resources aren’t wasted, and designers can improve their design with the feedback.
Designers shouldn’t do user testing just because it is expected of them, they should always do user testing with a set purpose in mind.