The User Testing Field Guide
The User Testing Field Guide
The User Testing Field Guide
The User Testing Field Guide

From Ballpark

The User Testing Field Guide

The User Testing Field Guide

A practical guide for usability testing

A practical guide for usability testing

This guide will help you carry out fast and cost effective usability testing that’ll leave you with actionable feedback directly from the people that matter. As a result, you’ll be able to iterate on the real issues at hand and ship products which delight your users.

This guide will help you carry out fast and cost effective usability testing that’ll leave you with actionable feedback directly from the people that matter. As a result, you’ll be able to iterate on the real issues at hand and ship products which delight your users.

Chapter I

Introduction

Chapter I

Introduction

Chapter I

Welcome to the user testing field guide

Welcome to the user testing field guide
Welcome to the user testing field guide

This guide will help you carry out fast and cost effective usability testing that’ll leave you with actionable feedback directly from the people that matter. As a result, you’ll be able to iterate on the real issues at hand and ship products which delight your users.

User testing is one of the most powerful tools in the product design process. All it means is evaluating the performance of your product through testing with representative users, who will complete a number of set tasks which will help you measure success.

Implementing the right testing tools and processes can help you validate pretty much anything. From features, copy, visuals or sketches, ideas and even competitive products.

If you’re new to user testing, it might seem daunting. Especially with various methods, terminology and tools. But don’t worry! We’re here to help.

With this handbook, we’ll explain the ins and outs of every stage of the user testing process. On top of that, we’ve created separate interactive templates for you to print and fill out whenever you run a session - including a test plan template and a template for capturing results.

Throughout this handbook, you’ll find references to our prototyping and user testing platform which can help amplify your research process.

To learn more, visit:

“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.”

“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.”

— Dana Chisnell

— Dana Chisnell
Dana Chisnell
Why bother with user testing?

Why bother with user testing?

If you’ve ever found issues with a design, feature or product once it’s in development, don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, software specialists spend “about 40 to 50% of their time on avoidable rework.”

Ouch. This is where the costs start racking up - fixing issues once they are in development is eye-wateringly expensive, regardless of company size.

If you’re a startup, designing and building in the wrong way thing could cause you to run out of money before you’ve reached product market fit. Bigger companies have to move quickly to stay competitive and maximise shareholder value. So as a roll on effect, time-to-market becomes an issue too.

If you’re new to user testing, it might seem daunting. Especially with various methods, terminology and tools. But don’t worry! We’re here to help.

IBM found, in a recent report, that discovering defects after releasing software costs 30 times more than catching them at the design stage.

Creating code-free prototypes using mockups, then testing them with participants will save you time, money and result in better user experiences.

But implementing a new tool and process can be tough, even if it does save so much time and effort in the long run. We’ve put together a few stats to back you up when it comes to getting buy-in from the wider business.

How we approach building product and testing at Ballpark

How we approach building product and testing at Ballpark

How we approach building product and testing at Ballpark?
How we approach building product and testing at Ballpark?
How we approach building product and testing at Ballpark?

At Ballpark, we prioritise usability as a fundamental component in developing exceptional features and products.

It’s universally acknowledged that every company aspires to create user-friendly products. However, without adhering to the foundational principles outlined in Aaron Walter’s ‘Hierarchy of User Needs,’ usability is rendered meaningless if the product lacks functionality (broken features) or reliability (frequent outages).

Ensuring these basics are in place is crucial for achieving usability success. Nonetheless, we believe that the finest digital products and services transcend these basics. But what lies beyond making something functional, reliable, and usable? Isn’t that sufficient?

In today’s competitive market, simply meeting basic user needs is no longer enough. Users have come to expect more than just functionality and reliability; they seek products that delight and engage them on a deeper level. This is where the true challenge lies for developers and designers: moving beyond the essentials to create experiences that stand out in a crowded digital landscape.

The pinnacle of user needs is creating pleasurable experiences.

This is where people express that they ‘love’ a product rather than merely ‘like’ it. It’s about evoking positive, human emotions through interactions with a digital product.

Achieving this requires a profound understanding of the end-user, along with continuous testing, listening, and iterating. User testing is the key to unlocking these insights and helps in crafting extraordinary products and features that resonate with users.

What are we testing?

1

Existing feature improvement tweaks

This is the most common type of testing we do at Ballpark and provides the quickest turnaround in feedback.

2

Short-term roadmap

We use detailed prototypes with features things that are planned in the short term, as there’s often more clarity around the requirements and feature set.

3

Long-term roadmap

For things that we know we want to build but may be more than 6-12 months away, we use loosely defined prototypes of wireframes and sketches with the bare bones of what we want to achieve.

4

R&D, innovation, random ideas

Sometimes an idea is a bit leftfield or not fully formed, in these cases we send simple 2-3 screen prototypes, super basic and a simple narrative of what we’re trying to achieve.

What are we testing?

1

Existing feature improvement tweaks

This is the most common type of testing we do at Ballpark and provides the quickest turnaround in feedback.

2

Short-term roadmap

We use detailed prototypes with features things that are planned in the short term, as there’s often more clarity around the requirements and feature set.

3

Long-term roadmap

For things that we know we want to build but may be more than 6-12 months away, we use loosely defined prototypes of wireframes and sketches with the bare bones of what we want to achieve.

4

R&D, innovation, random ideas

Sometimes an idea is a bit leftfield or not fully formed, in these cases we send simple 2-3 screen prototypes, super basic and a simple narrative of what we’re trying to achieve.

What are we testing?

1

Existing feature improvement tweaks

This is the most common type of testing we do at Ballpark and provides the quickest turnaround in feedback.

2

Short-term roadmap

We use detailed prototypes with features things that are planned in the short term, as there’s often more clarity around the requirements and feature set.

3

Long-term roadmap

For things that we know we want to build but may be more than 6-12 months away, we use loosely defined prototypes of wireframes and sketches with the bare bones of what we want to achieve.

4

R&D, innovation, random ideas

Sometimes an idea is a bit leftfield or not fully formed, in these cases we send simple 2-3 screen prototypes, super basic and a simple narrative of what we’re trying to achieve.

What are we testing?

1

Existing feature improvement tweaks

This is the most common type of testing we do at Ballpark and provides the quickest turnaround in feedback.

2

Short-term roadmap

We use detailed prototypes with features things that are planned in the short term, as there’s often more clarity around the requirements and feature set.

3

Long-term roadmap

For things that we know we want to build but may be more than 6-12 months away, we use loosely defined prototypes of wireframes and sketches with the bare bones of what we want to achieve.

4

R&D, innovation, random ideas

Sometimes an idea is a bit leftfield or not fully formed, in these cases we send simple 2-3 screen prototypes, super basic and a simple narrative of what we’re trying to achieve.

Who we test with?

1

Customer champions

These are some of our most engaged and vocal customers who love to test new things and let us know what they think. On any given week, we have 5-10 prototypes circulating within a group of 100 customer champions. Within the group, we have a mixture of small and large companies in different sectors so we can get a better understanding of how features impact teams of every size.

2

Users who have submitted a feature request

We receive hundreds of feature requests each week which are managed through a platform called ProductBoard. It allows users to not just submit new ideas, but upvote others added by the community. This makes it easy to quickly find lists of users who are interested in improvements on a particular part of the platform and send over a prototype to user test.

3

Potential customers or new market opportunities

When we build features which target a new market or profession, we ask our customers for intros to different departments and roles.

4

Users who have tried a particular feature

We frequently use a messaging platform called Intercom which allows us to filter users based on their usage, then show in-product questions or send emails.

5

Random users

We do random spot testing too and select a group of active users within the platform and reach out to them via email or in-app messaging using Intercom.

Who we test with?

1

Customer champions

These are some of our most engaged and vocal customers who love to test new things and let us know what they think. On any given week, we have 5-10 prototypes circulating within a group of 100 customer champions. Within the group, we have a mixture of small and large companies in different sectors so we can get a better understanding of how features impact teams of every size.

2

Users who have submitted a feature request

We receive hundreds of feature requests each week which are managed through a platform called ProductBoard. It allows users to not just submit new ideas, but upvote others added by the community. This makes it easy to quickly find lists of users who are interested in improvements on a particular part of the platform and send over a prototype to user test.

3

Potential customers or new market opportunities

When we build features which target a new market or profession, we ask our customers for intros to different departments and roles.

4

Users who have tried a particular feature

We frequently use a messaging platform called Intercom which allows us to filter users based on their usage, then show in-product questions or send emails.

5

Random users

We do random spot testing too and select a group of active users within the platform and reach out to them via email or in-app messaging using Intercom.

Who we test with?

1

Customer champions

These are some of our most engaged and vocal customers who love to test new things and let us know what they think. On any given week, we have 5-10 prototypes circulating within a group of 100 customer champions. Within the group, we have a mixture of small and large companies in different sectors so we can get a better understanding of how features impact teams of every size.

2

Users who have submitted a feature request

We receive hundreds of feature requests each week which are managed through a platform called ProductBoard. It allows users to not just submit new ideas, but upvote others added by the community. This makes it easy to quickly find lists of users who are interested in improvements on a particular part of the platform and send over a prototype to user test.

3

Potential customers or new market opportunities

When we build features which target a new market or profession, we ask our customers for intros to different departments and roles.

4

Users who have tried a particular feature

We frequently use a messaging platform called Intercom which allows us to filter users based on their usage, then show in-product questions or send emails.

5

Random users

We do random spot testing too and select a group of active users within the platform and reach out to them via email or in-app messaging using Intercom.

Who we test with?

1

Customer champions

These are some of our most engaged and vocal customers who love to test new things and let us know what they think. On any given week, we have 5-10 prototypes circulating within a group of 100 customer champions. Within the group, we have a mixture of small and large companies in different sectors so we can get a better understanding of how features impact teams of every size.

2

Users who have submitted a feature request

We receive hundreds of feature requests each week which are managed through a platform called ProductBoard. It allows users to not just submit new ideas, but upvote others added by the community. This makes it easy to quickly find lists of users who are interested in improvements on a particular part of the platform and send over a prototype to user test.

3

Potential customers or new market opportunities

When we build features which target a new market or profession, we ask our customers for intros to different departments and roles.

4

Users who have tried a particular feature

We frequently use a messaging platform called Intercom which allows us to filter users based on their usage, then show in-product questions or send emails.

5

Random users

We do random spot testing too and select a group of active users within the platform and reach out to them via email or in-app messaging using Intercom.

How we test

As a research platform, it should come as no surprise to hear we send out a lot of surveys and tests to pretty much everyone! From prospective users to loyal customers, there’s no question too big or small that can’t be helped by research.

1

When testing prototypes, we break larger flows down into smaller chunks

To make sure we’re moving as fast as possible and getting focused feedback, we avoid testing large, complex prototypes that take ages to design and link up. Instead we break them down to show part of a flow or feature.

2

Segmentation, segmentation, segmentation

Like most products, we do not have one type of user. Breaking down by role, subscription value, company size and feature usage is a must.

How we test

As a research platform, it should come as no surprise to hear we send out a lot of surveys and tests to pretty much everyone! From prospective users to loyal customers, there’s no question too big or small that can’t be helped by research.

1

When testing prototypes, we break larger flows down into smaller chunks

To make sure we’re moving as fast as possible and getting focused feedback, we avoid testing large, complex prototypes that take ages to design and link up. Instead we break them down to show part of a flow or feature.

2

Segmentation, segmentation, segmentation

Like most products, we do not have one type of user. Breaking down by role, subscription value, company size and feature usage is a must.

How we test

As a research platform, it should come as no surprise to hear we send out a lot of surveys and tests to pretty much everyone! From prospective users to loyal customers, there’s no question too big or small that can’t be helped by research.

1

When testing prototypes, we break larger flows down into smaller chunks

To make sure we’re moving as fast as possible and getting focused feedback, we avoid testing large, complex prototypes that take ages to design and link up. Instead we break them down to show part of a flow or feature.

2

Segmentation, segmentation, segmentation

Like most products, we do not have one type of user. Breaking down by role, subscription value, company size and feature usage is a must.

How we test

As a research platform, it should come as no surprise to hear we send out a lot of surveys and tests to pretty much everyone! From prospective users to loyal customers, there’s no question too big or small that can’t be helped by research.

1

When testing prototypes, we break larger flows down into smaller chunks

To make sure we’re moving as fast as possible and getting focused feedback, we avoid testing large, complex prototypes that take ages to design and link up. Instead we break them down to show part of a flow or feature.

2

Segmentation, segmentation, segmentation

Like most products, we do not have one type of user. Breaking down by role, subscription value, company size and feature usage is a must.

5x

10x

15x

30x

Design and Architecture

Implementation Phase

Integration Testing

Customer Beta Test

Post Product Release

So, what kind of benefits do you see from user testing?

So, what kind of benefits do you see from user testing?

Revenue: There is a common myth that user testing costs a lot of money to run, however as you can see from the above stats, it’s in no way close to what you could be paying if you don’t do it. Every $1 invested in UX results in a return between $2 and $100.

Experience: Gathering feedback from your actual audience, rather than acting on assumptions, can quickly result in an improvement in your product’s design and user experience.

Forrester Research found, “The revenue impact from a 10 percentage point improvement in a company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion”. Even if you’re not a billion-dollar unicorn, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Happiness: Not just for you and your team, but for your customers! You’ll no doubt see an increase in NPS, ratings and customer retention. Forrester says, “intentional and strategic user experience has the potential to raise conversion rates by as much as 400%”.

Time: Effective user testing generates actionable results from your end-user, this means you or your design team can get to work on the right problems - so you can iterate and hand over to dev faster. After all, 85% of issues related to UX can be detected by performing a usability test.

It’s important to remember that user testing is an iterative process, you test and gather results, implement changes then repeat until your participants are completing tasks as you hoped. On top of that, it’s a process that should be used for every idea, design, feature, design or product launch.

User Tests should be carried out regularly, you’ll figure out along the way whether once a week, once every two weeks or once a month works best for your business.

Whilst that might sound overwhelming, the wonderful thing is that there are plenty of user testing methodologies to choose from! Some save on time re- cruiting, some save on costs of booking spaces to host interviews, some generate more qualitative results and others more quantitative.

The secret to success is having different methods and tools at your disposal that match the scale of the testing you need to do. With tools like Ballpark you can create a usability test and send to 20 participants in 5 minutes and within an hour start watching the results. No special setup or skills needed.

Combining Ballpark with the methodologies, tips, tricks and templates in this guide gives you the super powers you need to get started and make usability testing work for you.

The common objections of user testing
The common objections of user testing

The common objections to user testing (and how to combat them)

The common objections to user testing (and how to combat them)

The common objections to user testing (and how to combat them)

Only 55% of companies are currently conducting any user experience testing, despite being such a crucial stage in the process. User testing often gets cast aside or swept under the rug.

We’ve included a list of the common objections you might hear, so you can be sure to squash them before they start costing you time, money and effort.

"We don't have dedicated researchers" - Researchers are an invaluable resource but you can still conduct testing without not essential to carrying out testing. It’s something that can be run by anyone with this guide. Especially with tools like Ballpark making the process more automated.

No budget. Needing a huge budget for user testing is a thing of the past, now with remote unmoderated testing and user testing software, you can cut your research costs in half. Create your first user test in Ballpark for free by clicking here.

"We don't have a usability lab" - With user testing software like Ballpark’s, it’s possible to run tests and record video and audio of your participants without an expensive lab setup. No fancy cameras or one-way mirror required.

"We already know our users" - Any business or team carries out user research to build personas which then guide the product, messaging and so on. So whilst you might know your user, but you will never understand how they use and experience your product if you don't run regular usability testing.

"It takes too long to do" - In the past, setting up a plan, running a session, then waiting for results could be a long and painful process. These days you can draw some sketches on a piece of paper, turn it into an interactive prototype and start gathering audio and video results of participants using it within an hour.

"Our deadlines are too tight" - Having more time to test is always a benefit but there are user testing methodologies which can be launched in less than 10 minutes. It doesn’t have to get in the way of your project timelines. We’ll cover these later on in this eBook.

"It’s too hard to recruit" - Admittedly, this was more difficult before the internet, but it certainly isn’t now. From scouring your own user base, to utilising recruitment platforms like Respondent or UserInterviews - your audience can be sourced with very little effort. We even integrated a pool of over 3 million participants in Ballpark, accessible in a few clicks and ready to test your ideas.

The role of prototyping in user testing
The role of prototyping in user testing

The role of prototyping in user testing

The role of prototyping in user testing

The role of prototyping in user testing

You often hear the phrase ‘test early and often’ - the idea is that waiting for everything to be polished and fully functional before you start testing can seriously drag out the time it takes to get meaningful feedback and discover problems (not to mention the costs involved if changes are required)

So, how do you get to the wrong idea, as fast as possible?

In the past you typically saw coded, functional prototypes put in front of users, where most of the interactivity works, but dummy data is used to get it out to users quickly. Whilst this is close to the real-thing, it can often take weeks to put together and is often outside the ability of the creative teams as it requires development.

Fast forward to today and ‘code-free’ prototypes in Figma have become the defacto standard when testing early stage ideas.

It’s a game changer for your process and means that every person on your team can grab your Figma prototype and test it with real participants in a matter of hours.

Types of prototypes you can use for User Testing:

Prototypes can come in a few different forms, selecting the right one comes down to how fast you want to move and the skill set of your team.

Low-fidelity (Paper sketches)

Low-fidelity (Paper sketches)
Low-fidelity (Paper sketches)

Sketching is the quickest and easiest way to get early stage ideas in front of the end-user or stakeholders. Grab a pen and paper, then start drawing the basic parts of each screen.

The limitations of what you can do with quick sketching often helps focus on just the fundamentals of what makes the idea work. Complex layouts get distilled into a handful of rectangles and text. Of course it will never elicit the same reaction as finished designs and does require some imagination from users, however what you lose in that area, you make up for in rapid speed and iteration.

The great thing about this stage is that anyone involved in the project can do it, we’ve even seen testing sessions where the end-user jumped in and started sketching what they thought would make more sense.

Need some handy wireframe paper to print? Download it here.

Ballpark low-fidelity test template: Using this Ballpark template in conjunction with your low-fidelity prototype means it’s the perfect research method for early-stage concepts and non-designers as all you need is pen and paper! Use the template.

Wireframes

When you are a step further along with your idea, you typically start creating wireframes. Wireframes act like the building blocks of each screen and will act as a skeleton for your everything that comes after including visuals, interactions and content.

It’s often said that the minimalism of wireframes allow users test sessions to be more focused on how it works, rather than distract with visuals. However there’s no one size fits all approach.

Wireframes are usually created in tools like Figma.

Hi-Fidelity

If you have progressed to the full design of your product or feature, then you are ready for hi-fidelity prototyping.

These types of prototypes use finished visuals and are almost indistinguishable from the real-thing which makes it brilliant for getting genuine reactions in user test sessions.

It takes longer to design the hi-fidelity mockups to put into the prototype, but the trade off is often worth it.

In an ideal world, you would be able to move through from low to high fidelity over time in your user tests. But don’t get hung up on everything being perfect, some feedback will always be better than none!

Ballpark high-fidelity test template: Need a quick way to spin up your Figma prototype test? We've put together a simple template for you to drop your Figma link. Use the template.

Now you understand the ‘why’ of user testing and where prototyping comes in, let’s jump into the ‘how’. The best place to start is from the beginning, creating your test plan.

Chapter II

Creating a Test Plan

Chapter II

Creating a Test Plan

Create a test plan

Chapter II

Create a test plan

A prototype isn’t the only thing you need to kick off user testing, you also need a plan - and the more detailed the better.

Now is the opportunity to break down the specifics of your upcoming user test, where you’ll define things like:

  • The feature, or product, you’re testing

  • The business case

  • Your test’s objectives

  • Your audience

  • Your test tasks

Tackling this early on will help you create effective user tests that have clear objectives and focus, generate both quantitative and qualitative data and have proven business value.

To carry out a successful user test, it’s helpful to define the purpose of the feature and clearly outline what’s being tested. This will help you to determine success in the later analytical stages.

In this stage, you should outline the key business and user experience goals of this feature so you can ensure that your usability test objectives and tasks are linked to these.

It’s also an opportunity to outline anything that is out of the ordinary, for example, any special conditions or context that is needed to understand the direction of this test.

It’s essential to break down why you need to run this test, its results should prove that your work is driving towards the business goals you outlined in the last step.

Noting this down, alongside the potential business costs of not carrying out these tests, may also come in handy if, and when, you need to get buy-in from the wider business.

So far, you’ve outlined what you’re testing and why you’re testing it - with this baseline in place, it’s the perfect time to outline your objectives. What specifically do you hope to learn from users in this test?

For each feature, 2-3 objectives should be specified, which will then have 2-3 tasks paired to them.

It’s important to avoid broad objectives - it might come back to bite you when you’re creating your test tasks later on. Instead, try to come up with specific concerns you might have, aspects you predict to be challenging, potential problems that have been highlighted by developers or wider teams.

For example, let’s say the feature you’re testing is a new add to cart design, objectives could be:

  • Objective 1: Users notice the new add to cart button

  • Objective 2: Users find their cart easily once adding an item

  • Objective 3: Identify any design usability issues in this current flow

Before diving into recruiting participants for user testing, you’ll need to define what participants you are using. You’ll more than likely have all your personas mapped out, so just choose which personas are core users of this particular feature or product.

A helpful exercise can be defining their telling characteristics or demographics:

  • Age

  • Profession

  • Location

Or context driven characteristics:

  • Owns a car

  • Has a child under 3 years old

  • Works remotely

Pro tip: Ballpark has dozens of targeting options for finding the right people to take your test.

Tasks refer to any activity or action you’d like your participant to achieve during the test. They should reflect the test objectives you outlined earlier on.

Studies show that there is more benefit and a higher quality of results during a test which has more varied tasks than simply a higher number of participants.

A good way to determine whether you have a varied set of tasks is by asking open-ended and closed questions.

What are open-ended tasks?

Open-ended tasks give your participants the opportunity to find solutions on their own through providing them with minimal information. Perfect for early stage testing where you’re finding areas of interest or identifying usability issues.

When these tasks are the supported by open questions, you’ll receive open-ended, descriptive answers - you might need to remind users to think out loud during these tasks.

For example, an open ended task would be: ‘Please spend 3 minutes exploring the website as you normally would’ and an open question would be, “What would you expect to be able to do on this website?”.

What are closed tasks?

Closed tasks generate more quantitative results as you’re giving them clear guidance, giving your research the focus you need. Perfect for testing complex products, specific features or generating feedback that’ll optimise conversion.

Craft these tasks carefully along with some closed questions, as you’ll want to avoid leading questions that impact the validity of your data.

For example, a closed task might be, ‘Search and select a mug to purchase using our new search functionality’, and a closed question would be, ‘How did you find the new search functionality?’.

Chapter III

Recruiting Participants

Chapter III

Recruiting Participants

Recruiting participants for user testing

Chapter III

Recruiting participants for user testing

Sourcing a pool of participants that are truly representative of your target audience is essential to great research. With the right participants, you’ll generate more accurate results that will be applied to the design stages that follow testing.

Thanks to your detailed test plan, you’ll know exactly who you’re testing with - now it’s just how to get a hold of them!

There are plenty of methods for recruiting participants for user testing and some may be easier, or more challenging, depending on who you’re targeting.

In this chapter, we’ll talk about recruiting the following users:

  • Existing users

  • Prospective users

  • Internal participants

How to recruit participants for user testing

It’s vital you get feedback from your people who represent your current and prospective user base when creating new ideas, features and products. Both can provide a unique and valuable perspective that’ll be essential to the success of your project.

How to recruit participants for user testing
How to recruit participants for user testing

The overall objectives of the project will determine which type of participant you’ll need.

For example, if you’re planning new features or enhancements that will affect existing user journeys in your product - it’s best to approach your current user base.

However, if you’re entering into new markets, designing for a new persona, or you’ve created a brand new product to bring to market and your users have no idea who you are (yet), recruiting prospective users is the best approach.

Each has its pros and cons, but regardless of approach, segmenting participants by attributes or demographics is key.

Recruitment tips
Recruitment tips

Recruitment tips

Line

Offer rewards

To get people’s attention, and hold it, it’s best to include a reward for taking part, something along the lines of an Amazon voucher, cash, free or early access to features or company swag would work just fine!

Offer rewards

To get people’s attention, and hold it, it’s best to include a reward for taking part, something along the lines of an Amazon voucher, cash, free or early access to features or company swag would work just fine!

Recruit between 5 and 15 users

Testing with 5 users might give you a valid overview of the majority result, however the more users you test with the more representative of your wider user base.

Recruit between 5 and 15 users

Testing with 5 users might give you a valid overview of the majority result, however the more users you test with the more representative of your wider user base.

To recruit your current users

Creating a reusable participant list from your existing users is must. It will become invaluable for setting up a repeatable user testing program for your team or business.

At Ballpark, we have our ‘Customer Champions’ list. These are super engaged users who graciously offer their time to test all our new features. Here’s how we recruited them:

To recruit your current users
To recruit your current users
To recruit your current users

1

Via Sales, Success and Support teams

Utilise your customer-facing teams who interact with your most vocal and engaged users everyday, they can tag and forward users who might be of interest.

2

In-product messaging

In-app messaging using free tools such as Intercom or Crisp can pop-up anywhere in your product to recruit users. It’s one of our favourite methods!

3

Setting up a beta program

Try announcing a beta program where your users can join to get early access to new features and improvements. This will give you a high-quality pool of users.

To recruit your prospective users
To recruit your prospective users

How to recruit outside of your userbase

How to recruit outside of your userbase

When you’re searching for users that sit outside of your current base, or you’re in the early stages of your business and don’t have any users yet - don’t panic. There are plenty of methods to use to reach your core audience:

1

Recruitment platforms

Online recruitment platforms are the quickest way to find candidates from a huge pool of consumers and professionals. They help manage the entire recruiting process, including qualifying candidates based on your needs all the way to compensation.

Some can even locate participants based on very detailed criteria - how about a 25 year-old Chef from Turkey that loves Tennis? Or students studying law in Brazil that use MacBooks? Anything is possible.

2

Guerilla

This recruitment technique is as simple as you can get! Grab your prototype and your test plan and head to the street!

This usually works best for consumer-facing apps and services. You will only have a few minutes to run your session so make sure you adapt your test to the situation.

3

Targeted ads

A common, cheaper, tactic to find prospective users is to create highly targeted ads on Google, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter aimed at recruiting users within that criteria.

The ads would direct users to a form (Ballpark surveys are perfect) or a link to book a meeting in your calendar (Calendly is a popular scheduling platform). This helps you get the exact type of person you need, at relatively low cost (don’t forget an incentive in the advert!).

You can also jump into LinkedIn Groups or Facebook Groups that match the persona you’re going after. These groups can contain hundreds even thousands of your target audience.

4

Listing websites

One of the cheapest ways to recruit users is through listing websites, like Craigslist or Gumtree, where your ads can reach thousands of people, globally.

Recruiting this way might mean that quality may vary, so be as clear as possible in your post.

Recruiting internally for high level feedback

We’re big believers in creating an environment where the design process is more open and inclusive, giving all people across the business the ability to share their own perspectives on solutions.

Recruiting internally for high level feedback
Recruiting internally for high level feedback

Internal testing is a great way to implement this kind of inclusion. Putting prototypes in front of your colleagues is a fantastic way to gather feedback from your team and direct stakeholders, and pull insights from the wider business.

New features, or products, can often impact other departments. For example, a redesign has moved functionality that’ll lead to an increase in tickets for the support team, or perhaps the introduction of multiple currencies in your checkout might change how finance reports on revenues.

Not only will you gather insights, but manage communication, collaboration and camaraderie with new launches.

When to test internally

If the changes to your product will impact other departments

  • If you are creating internal apps, features or services that aren’t externally facing

  • To create an inclusive design and problem solving culture

  • Early and often in your process

Methods to recruit internal users

Methods to recruit internal users

Methods to recruit internal users

The great thing about internal testing is that it’s fast and free - as your audience is within your reach either in person or over email, Slack or phone. The size of the business will determine the best method for scheduling internal testing.

1

Email blast

Ping an email to the relevant teams with details of the test, the time you’ll need and how many volunteers you need. Sending a Calendly invite link works great.

2

All hands announcement

If you have a company all hands, why not highlight details of the test and what you need there - try reserving a room, or create an online meeting for a couple of hours and ask for drop-ins.

3

Scheduling a coffee

This could be done in-person or over Slack or Zoom. Ask for a quick 1:1 so you can walk them through the test and ask questions as you go.

Pro Tip: A super quick way to gather rich feedback from internal users is to create a User Test in Ballpark which provides a single URL which you can share in Slack channels, emails or your documents. This allows colleagues to quickly use your prototype and leave audio and video feedback.

Note: Remember, internal testing is not a replacement for testing with real-world users, it should be done in conjunction and as part of a multi-stage process.

Chapter IV

User Testing Methods

Chapter IV

User Testing Methods

Three different methods of user testing

Chapter IV

Three different methods of user testing

User testing, or usability testing, comes in many forms and there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all solution – especially if you’re working without a research team.

In the following chapters, we’ll define and guide you through three of the most popular methods:

  • Moderated User Testing

  • Remote Unmoderated User Testing

  • Guerrilla User Testing

As designers, you might experience time constraints, budget limitations or dry spells in other resources.

That’s why introducing varied user testing methodologies can present you with quick wins, that helps you bridge the gap between your product and end-user and might end up saving your user experience.

A guide to moderated user testing

A guide to moderated user testing
A guide to moderated user testing
A guide to moderated user testing

Moderated testing is often preferred because it leads to higher-quality feedback over unmoderated testing. Face-to-face or remote, it works well for detailed, controlled and in-depth sessions, especially around complex prototypes and flows.

Moderated user testing sessions have both the participant and researcher present throughout.

Unlike other testing methods, you’ll be live-querying, interacting and answering any questions the participants might have. Which means you have a real opportunity to build a strong rapport with users, so be sure to include a good mix of open and closed tasks and questions.

These sessions can be carried out remotely, in-person, or anywhere you can set up your test and control the conditions. This is important, having different environmental conditions for each participant could

impact the results. For moderated testing, you might set conditions of where the test must be carried out, for example, in a restaurant if it’s a bill splitting app.

As you’ll be coordinating schedules and, in some cases, finding a space too - you’ll find moderated user testing uses the most resources.

But don’t let that put you off! You’ll be rewarded with responses that surpass most unmoderated methods.

Perfect for:

  • Generating both qualitative and quantitative data: having a range in questions and data points is always a plus - but having interactive sessions can also lead to candid feedback that might not have come up otherwise.

  • If you’re studying a prototype that has a complicated flow, or limited functionality/fidelity that would benefit from your additional questioning throughout, you have the opportunity to learn much more about the customer journey and pain points.

  • Catching extra details: Being in person means you can observe body language you might have missed otherwise, highlighting areas that might cause confusion. Whilst moderating over the phone might encourage the user to be more verbal about their thought process.

How to run your own session:

1

Create your test plan

Using our template that will help you specify your test goals, identify your users and define your tasks and questions. You’ll find it in the ZIP folder download.

Recruit participants

Identify which method works best for you out of those we outlined in the previous chapter.

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3

Choose the location and share details

As participants will be carrying out tests with you present, you’ll need to decide the best place to run the session. This can be in the street, an office or online via video conferencing platforms like Zoom or Google Hangouts.

Make sure they are prepped with enough context beforehand and any requirements such as devices and prototype links.

Note: Ballpark automatically records video, audio and interactions whilst your participant is carrying out the test. To run remote moderated user testing, pair Ballpark with a comms platform like Zoom or Google Hangouts to instruct people while testing.

Write a script

Having a standard set of questions to ask during the session helps bring some uniformity to the results you gather, but don’t afraid to go with the flow if things don’t go according to plan!

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5

Define how you’ll measure the test

You can use the templates we’ve outlined for recording observations, goal completion and other notes in this folder.

Note: Prototype testing in Ballpark automatically tracks metrics and conversion rates during the test. Including paths and heatmaps too. Read more here.

Run the test

We’re live! Run through your test plan. Some things to bear in mind when sitting in on tests with users:

  • Make the participant feel comfortable

  • If things go very quiet, encourage them to think aloud

  • Avoid leading questions and the urge to jump in and help. Try starting questions with ‘How might you’.

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7

Capture results

Your tech set up should capture most of the observational body language, so try not to note down too much during the session as this may negatively distract the user.

At the end of your session

Once you’ve completed your tests, remember to thank your users and provide their rewards. Give them your contact details if they have any follow up questions. Now, you’ve collated all this data, it’s time to go away and analyse it and create actions to improve your prototype.

A Guide to Remote Unmoderated User Testing
A Guide to Remote Unmoderated User Testing

A Guide to Remote Unmoderated User Testing

A Guide to Remote Unmoderated User Testing

The revolutionary user testing methodology that’s low cost and low effort. With unmoderated user testing you can gather in-depth written, verbal, video and screen-recording data direct from audience wherever they are in the world, whatever the timezone.

Unmoderated user testing just refers to the fact that the user carries out the test without a moderator present. This could mean you and your team are all hiding behind a one-way mirror, but we’d like to cover remote. Why? Because with user testing software like Ballpark, this method is so easy to do and reduces time spent on user testing whilst scaling research

It’s now possible to share prototypes with users via a link and have them test products or features in their natural environment, like in the office, home or commuting. And a more natural environment means more realistic results.

Remote usability testing is carried out using software, like Ballpark, where you can share a prototype with participants to run tests pretty much anywhere.

Test participants are provided with the pre-determined tasks to perform whilst the software records audio and visual data for you to watch and analyse when the test is complete and the data sent right back to you.

Benefits:

  • Save time by only having to create the unmoderated interview project once. Unlike moderated interviews, you don’t need to repeat the session multiple times for different participants, you only have to do it once.

  • Schedule free - you also don’t need a back-and-forth with potential respondents to schedule times, because you can just recruit people directly from our platform which has integrated multiple external panels (to a total of around 3 million people). This saves most of the time and energy that goes into scheduling moderated interviews.

  • One researcher and one survey is all you need to conduct an unmoderated interviews with any number of people. This means you don’t need a large team of multiple researchers working on the same project, saving resources and freeing up more researchers time. This means, for example, three researchers within a team can focus on and set up multiple different projects at the same time.

  • Scalability allows you to reach more people than you could with moderated interviews. For example, you might needed a full month to plan, organise and conduct 15 moderated interviews. However, if you use unmoderated interviews through our platform, you could get those 15 responses in overnight. This means you could even double the number to 30 responses, or even more, and it takes the same amount of time.

  • All the data in one place. You can collect verbal responses, facial expressions, written responses, quantitative responses, and screen-recording all in one place. You only need one software to collect a vast array of data.

  • Mixed-method approaches allow you to collect both quant and qual data in one place through the range of data collection that Ballpark enables. For example, you could have a research project with camera and screen recording that asks for verbal feedback throughout the project. In addition, you can provide the respondent with quantitative questions (likerts, multiple choice, etc) and tasks (prototypes, websites) at the same time. This gives you the best of both quant and qual.

Considerations:

  • You can’t ask an unscripted question based on a response. For example, if someone says something unexpected in a moderated interview, you can change the script if needed and ask questions specific to their responses.

    • Our solution to this is the use of conditional logic, meaning you can show certain questions to people who answer a certain way. This is a nice way to tailor the survey to specific responses. You’d just have to ask a quantitative question amongst the verbal response questions. For example “How often do you buy groceries online?” - if someone answers “More than twice per month” you can then guide them toward different questions to those who answered “Less than once per month”, allowing you to tailor questions to specific answers.

  • Speaking to a computer and not a person makes it less conversational. It’s certainly a little less natural to speak out loud in response to a survey question than it is to speak to another person. It may feel strange and take a moment to get used to this format.

    • You can add videos of yourself into the survey questions, meaning you can introduce the respondent to the survey, explain a question in a little more detail, and add a human touch to your project. We found it actually increases answer rates by 23% when doing this, so it’s nice way to enhance the respondent experience whilst improving the data.

How to run your own session:

1

Create your test plan

Specify your test goals, identify your users and define your tasks and questions.

Create your Figma prototype

Figma makes it easy to turn your designs into interactive prototypes. No coding required. This means you can quickly test engaging experiences that look and feel like the real thing, just without the effort!

2

3

Create your test

Start a project in Ballpark and click 'Add step' to add a prototype task. Select the goal you want the participant to reach and you're good to go!

Invite participants

Through the ‘Recruit’ tab in Ballpark, you can directly share your survey with your target audience, using the filter options to find the perfect people. Alternatively, if you’ve already got your respondent sample (e.g. a list of current customers), you can easily share a link directly directly with them.

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5

Wait

With all the hard work done, go work on another project, have that meeting you’ve been meaning to have or just make yourself a well deserved cuppa whilst you wait for the results.

Measure success

Head to your dashboard to review the stats or deep dive into the video responses.

6

A Guide to Remote Unmoderated User Testing
A Guide to Remote Unmoderated User Testing
A Guide to Guerrilla User Testing
A Guide to Guerrilla User Testing

A Guide to Guerrilla User Testing

A Guide to Guerrilla User Testing

A Guide to Guerrilla User Testing

One of the easiest usability testing techniques that’ll help validate, or invalidate, your ideas by generating results fast. Cut costs and time spent by eliminating recruitment with guerrilla UX testing.

If you’re looking for a method to get fast feedback on your prototypes, Guerrilla User Testing takes the cake.

It’s a technique that takes advantage of the audience that’s immediately available to you, by simply heading to the nearest local cafe, park or communal space with your work in hand.

Designers and researchers all the same can run interviews within that location

by approaching people in the vicinity and produce instant qualitative feedback. Whilst it’s better to recruit participants who match your buyer persona, most of the people you meet will be an expert in using some device.

Not needing a lab, paperwork or recruitment makes guerrilla UX testing extremely lean and agile.

Perfect for:

  • Frequent tests throughout the design process due to it’s low cost impact

  • Testing user experience and identifying potential usability issues early on in the process

  • Running alongside broader usability testing methods which produce more metric driven results

How to run your own session:

1

Create your test plan

Specify your test goals, identify your users and define your tasks and questions.

Write a script

Whilst in Guerilla User Testing, you won’t be able to control all the environmental conditions but you can manage how you speak to the participant and the way you carry out your test.

2

3

Choose your device

Mobile devices and tablets best suit this method of testing. Make sure you have one you can use during the testing session to hand to participants for use.

Pick your spot

Go to the high-street, cafe, supermarket or wherever there are new people you can approach to test your prototype. Remember everyone in the area is a potential participant!

  • Create a few qualification questions to make sure they fit your criteria.

  • Don’t be discouraged by people not being interested!

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5

Interviews

It’s important to give the participant space to vocalise their thoughts and feelings. Remember to be as quiet as possible, embrace silences but if you can see that a user is processing a lot internally, give them gentle nudges to think aloud.

Capture Results

Our template will guide you through capturing whether tasks were completed, how easily users navigate your product and additional notes from your observations. Find it in the ZIP folder download.

  • Try to refrain from writing too much as this can be distracting for the user and you may get skewed results.

  • Set your mind to observe and at the end of the test summarise the top 3 usability problems experienced and whether or not the user completed their task.

6

At the end of your session

Once you’ve completed guerrilla user testing you’ll have some actionable feedback which will highlight the core areas you need to work on to improve your user experience.

Chapter V

Creating a Shareable Insights Document

Chapter V

Creating a Shareable Insights Document

Creating a shareable insights document

Chapter V

Creating a shareable insights document

So your user testing has come to an end and you’ve collected your notes, video and audio recordings. Now what?

The final step is creating a document of the valuable insights you’ve discovered, enabling you to share what you’ve learned with others - whether that’s with your immediate team or throughout the wider business.

Remember the more people who have access to user research, the better for business. Not only are there plenty of teams that will find this research useful, there are others which might be directly affected by any changes you make off the back of it.

Here’s what you should know about creating an insights document.

What is an Insights Document?

If you plan on sharing your research with your team, wider organisation or stakeholders, an insights document is a great way to package up everything you’ve discovered during your testing sessions (and get buy-in when needed).

The level of effort you need to put into the document depends on the type of testing and the audience. If you’re validating something small with your team, then simply condense it into a Slack message or email, and make it heavy on the bullet points. If you need to present to stakeholders, then make it longer.

How to structure your document

1

What this user research is about

A brief description on why you conducted these user tests and what you set out to achieve

2

Who you tested with

A breakdown of the participant profiles.

3

What you tested

Provide links to prototypes and designs.

4

Highlights

This is a brief summary of the key highlights from your testing and allows the reader to continue to the full summary if they want to go further in depth. Keep this to 5 bullet points maximum and make it concise.

5

Quotes

It’s easy to overlook quotes but often there’s things that are said during test sessions that can cut through the noise and package up the sentiment for the entire test session. Include the quote and the profile of the participant for additional context.

6

Metrics

It can often be difficult to decide whether a user test was a success through qualitative feedback alone. One of the most powerful ways to decide whether a design or prototype is the right solution is to track how users move through the flow. For example how many users complete the goal or reached the correct screen? What was the average time taken?

Pro Tip: When you create a user test in Ballpark, the data is automatically collected and displayed for every test so you can quickly see which users had issues and surface designs that perform better.

Using this data, you can compare different participants or even different tests and see how they perform. Keep a count during your sessions and add this to your write ups.

7

Full summary

A longer overview of your findings during the test sessions. This should constantly relate back to why you conducted the research. Keep this concise and include links to evidence where possible.

8

Links

If you’ve collected photos, surveys, video and audio recordings and other links along the way add them in here.

Chapter VI

Conclusion

Chapter VI

Conclusion

Now, get out  in the field
Now, get out  in the field

Now, get out in the field

Now, get out in the field

We hope using this guide results in creating an invaluable channel for user feedback that will ultimately transform not only your design process but the also products you create. The premise is simple, validate your ideas early on, remove assumptions through research and build better products.

Take the time to figure out which methods work best for you and your team, so you can make the user testing process as seamless as possible. As we outlined earlier, there are a number of reasons companies skip user research, but now knowing what you know, be a part of the 45% that doesn’t make those excuses - make design your competitive edge.

We’ve mentioned a number of tools within this book that can help you streamline the whole process, whether you’re carrying out moderated, remote or guerrilla user testing, including our own User Testing tool.

To learn more about Ballpark, why not catch our next product webinar?

Faster research, better products.