User Testing Tips

User Testing Tips

Rachel Fairbanks, Product Manager at Viacom, recently shared her tips to user test for success at the Product School in NYC. Here are the key takeaways from her user testing session.

User Testing
Pre-User Testing Session: Prep Work
  • Allot 1 hour for the session.
  • Determine and recruit key personas. Make sure to provide incentives!
  • Remove things from the prototype that will distract users from the goals of the test.
  • Define questions and hypotheses you want to answer.
  • Determine important features and tasks to test.
  • Prepare the script:
    • Intro and pretest questions (ask about their habits: their workflow, current pain points, how they plan to use the app, etc.)
    • List steps/tasks (avoid being granular)
    • Post-test questions rating experience


During the User Testing Session
  • Have a mindset of curiosity (it’s very easy to be biased). It’s not about YOU validating your ideas.
  • Be careful about influencing users without trying.
  • Avoid explaining how things are supposed to work.
  • Ask “WHY?”, so you understand where the user is coming from.
  • Have the user “think out loud” while they test (awkward for the user, but helps you understand how people are approaching product and workflow).
  • TAKE NOTES (even when facilitating). It’s helpful to have multiple team members sitting in the testing session & taking notes, as well. Then, regroup with your team afterward and have them give you their feedback & notes regarding the session.


Post-User Testing Session: Review Feedback
  • Organize user feedback based on themes, and take note of any patterns or clusters that emerge (use stickies or something similar).
  • Outliers can provide insightful information that makes you think of the product in a different way!
  • Prioritize feedback:
    • Critical (i.e. need to improve to advance production adoption)
    • Nice to have
    • Not important


Afterward, Continue to Iterate on the Process
  • What worked/didn’t work?
  • What changes do we need to make?
  • Are there questions we should have asked? Anything we should have avoided?
  • Did the session run smoothly?
  • Was there enough time allotted for preparation?
Anulekha Venkatram

Anulekha Venkatram is a Product Manager who enjoys partnering with professionals to build innovative products that solve customer problems. In her free time, she reads voraciously about technology trends, writes engaging content for, and somehow finds time for grad school. Follow her on Twitter at @AnulekhaV.