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In praise of user testing – part 1

We have ran some user testing recently and what an eye-opener it was.

So how did we go about this?

Well by trying to find users who were interested in our content.

I have already described how I helped to identify the persona of performance measurement specialists. The usability supplier then dug up the relevant users from their database and also the other group of Parliamentary researchers.

Most of the hard work went into the preparation – trying to be objective and thinking about parts of the site, or types of content we suspected did not really work, or could work better.

Equally we tried to highlighted some unique content formats that many users might not have found before on our site to check if they had any relevance for a wider range of users.

As well as looking at what we had we tried to find potential relevant examples from other sites; and ideas for formats used by other similar kinds of organisations to test their viability.

We were able to base a lot of our ideas on the previous research done to help form the basis of our digital communications strategy.

Since we wanted to get a bit more buy-in from colleagues in the organisation we also asked the owners of the relevant content what they would like to focus on.

Once the users were in the room and the observers were installed (including non-comms colleagues) we got into the meat of the event.

The most amusing bit is when he facilitator tells the users – ‘say what you think the site owners will not be offended’. Behind the two-way mirror we all mouthed to each other ‘yes we will’ – though of course we were not, as all the comments were super useful.

After that the facilitator did a great job of teasing out information from the users, getting consensus where it existed or highlighted differences when they were evident. This was all based around following the script we had agreed in advance.

So what did we find? Read the next post – to follow…

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