Why user experience testing matters

Published 2/21/2024

When you’re creating a solution with a particular type of user or audience, it makes sense to have them participate closely in the process.

There are often a range of stakeholders involved when we undertake a dashboard build - project managers, technical leads, business decision makers etc - but the users we’re most interested in hearing from are the ones who will actually be using the dashboard day-to-day.

Getting the story straight

User story workshops - which take place before any development has begun - give us the insight we need to map out key requirements. A user story is a concise description of features or functionality from the perspective of the end user. It outlines what a user wants to accomplish, and why.

For example

  • AS A Sales Manager

  • I NEED TO know which product in my store is contributing most to the profits we make each month 

  • SO THAT I know which products to continue to invest in 

  • BECAUSE I want to ensure what I am ordering from my supplier will benefit my store

  • I'LL USE IT IN every manager meeting 

  • EVERY month

However, experience has shown us that this is really only a starting point. That’s because user stories can evolve as the development process does too. It’s usually difficult for users to know exactly what they need or want, until they see or experience it for themselves. As many of the dashboards we build for our clients are completely new, there is often nothing for users to compare them against, and it can be hard for them to visualise how something might work.

Having a regular feedback loop and using quickly sketched “pretotypes” is a more effective way to reach the right outcome, rather than spending time building what we assume is the right solution, only to find that it wasn’t what users wanted, or that we’d misinterpreted their expectations. Regular check-ins on feedback ensure we’re not developing dashboards for the sake of it; we’re only focusing on what they actually need. 

We have a demo session every fortnight to update our users on what we have developed based on their feedback last time. We also add in extra testing sessions every time we have a big change in the dashboard, for example, a new data feed that changes the existing visual. 

Our approach to user testing is to make it a fun, engaging and meaningful process for those involved, and adapted to suit different clients and different groups of users.

Here’s what works for us

Collaborate with users regularly

We have a user testing session after every major release according to the road map, as well as the fortnightly demo session. We set up an online meeting and give all users involved in testing access to the prototype dashboard. We come prepared with a series of questions based on what we’ve uncovered through user stories. Users will read the question on their own screen and each user then answers that question independently, which we’ll review to see who was able to answer the question ‘correctly’. The order of questions is also important - we go from the most general question, all the way to the most detailed. The idea is to follow the journey of the user from investigating to actioning within the details. For example, we may start with “Can you identify the number of items sold?” and then the next question will expand on that further: “Now that you have identified the number of items sold, can you find out which category contributed the most to this?”

There is no right or wrong

This is less about testing the users, and more about understanding how easy we’ve made it for them to get it right. If they can’t figure out what we’re asking them, then our task is to figure out how we can make the dashboard more intuitive or how we can better guide the users to get the answer. 

We need to seek more understanding and iterate until we validate and fulfil each user story. Whether a user was able to fulfil a question correctly or not, we ask them to share the journey they took to reach their answer. This helps us see where we can improve the dashboard so that it fits what users really need, or provide more education around how the dashboard can be used.

Understand sentiment

We also give all users the opportunity to submit their feedback on the dashboard, as well as the user testing experience itself. We ask users to provide a ‘score’ after each session, which helps us understand whether our users are feeling heard and engaged, and that we are heading in the right direction with our dashboard development.

The benefits

Regular feedback, testing and iterating is critical to creating an end solution that actually fulfils each user story. Plus, we see firsthand that getting users involved from day one also improves engagement and confidence once a dashboard is released, reducing friction or disruption and reducing the need for training. The knowledge that they’re participating in something that makes a difference is empowering to users - just as much as it is for us knowing that what we’re doing is making a difference to the way your organisation can operate with more intention and efficiency.

If you’re curious about how your organisation can get actionable intelligence with a built-in experience that users understand and can relate to, reach out to us for a no obligation chat.

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