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User Testing: Facilitated User Testing


Facilitated user testing involves bringing in test subjects and giving them a set number of tasks to try and accomplish. A moderator is there to provide support and answer any queries from the tester, as well as to observe and get live feedback from the tester about their thoughts behind their actions.

Advantages of this type of testing are that the moderator can make sure that the tester stays on task and does not go off topic, is there in person to immediately answer any questions the tester has and can also get live feedback from the tester about how/why they are performing certain actions in a task.

Disadvantages of facilitated user testing include having to provide a moderator for the test session, and that the number of test subjects is limited to the amount the moderator can handle whilst still providing enough guidance & collecting feedback. The limitations to this type of testing include only discovering problems related to the task that has been set for the user.

How Many Users?

studies have shown that testing on 5 users will uncover 85% of usability problems in a product. Steve Kruug recommends testing on 3 users if you are conducting the user testing without a usability expert.

Advantages of testing on three users inclues:

  • Less time and resources spent on finding users, conducting tests and analysing results
  • Quicker feedback on overall testing summary
  • Less notes to process

How Often?

Testing in iterative cycles is recommended to catch as many errors as possible. The recommendation is to test in three iterative cycles of users. This allows you to fix the errors found from the previous group of three users before testing another group.

Pre-Test Information

Before doing the first iteration it is a good idea to do a pilot test with a co-worker/student to make sure that everyone involved in the testing is clear on their role in relation to the script. The co-worker can point out any issues they come across during the pilot test, and the test conductors can also see if there are any errors. It shouldn’t take as long as a normal user test, as they don’t necessarily need to complete the tasks, they just need to make sure that the task goal is clear.

It is important that users be financially compensated for their time. Incentives can include CDU merchandise, vouchers, or cash.

It can also be good for members of the project team to observe a user test where possible. Observers can write down the three most important usability problems they think occurred during the testing session(See resources page for observer sheet), and can also provide feedback to the facilitator on questions they think should be asked to the participant.

Test Process

It is important to record the testing for later viewing. This can be done with screen recorders via programs such as Camtasia. It is also important to record voice with a microphone, as the user is encouraged to think out loud.

The steps involved in developing & conducting a usability test are as follows:

  1. Develop a script & consent form for the test (see resources page)
  2. Do a pilot test on a staff member/student to ensure the script and software all run smoothly
  3. Recruit users to do the test
  4. Conduct the test
  5. Record the results
  6. Analyse the results
  7. Feed the analysis back to relevant group

Post Test

After the test, a debriefing meeting is run by the test facilitator. Lists of usability errors from each observer are collated, and the ten most important issues are gathered from this list by the project group. The Project group then prioritizes this new list, and decides which issues need to be fixed before the next testing iteration.


  • Testing should be done in iterative cycles, with 3-5 users at a time.

  • It is best to test on users that resemble your target audience when possible, however, any user is a good user to test on. As our target audience is primarily students and we are located in the library, testing on students should not be a problem.

  • Financial incentive should be involved.

  • Tests should be done on both mobile and computer- A large amount of web browsing is now done on mobile devices, so it is important to make sure that it works for mobile.
  • Results will provide the project team with usability issues to be discussed/fixed before next round of testing.

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