User Testing


Design Notebooks & Team Pages

Let’s take a few minutes to review your “Flows & Paper Prototypes” Design Notebook entries and team pages from last week.

Paper Prototypes & User Testing

Usability Testing

What is usability?

Why test usability?

  • Are end-users doing what you want them to be doing?
  • Are they doing what you expected them to do?
  • Did they become confused while trying to reach their goals?
  • Did you really think through all possible paths through the application?
  • Did they have a preferred path?
  • Are some paths unused?
  • Are some paths used in ways that weren’t intended?

Why use paper prototypes to test usability?


  • Together with your team, review your paper prototypes to make sure they clearly represent user flows you intend to develop for your project.
  • Revise your paper prototype as necessary in preparation for usability testing
  • Make a list of specific things your team would like to observe about how your test users use your prototype

Paper Prototype Usability Testing Roles

  • Tester – The one who was going to test the other teams’ prototypes. This person will be asked to “think aloud” while testing the prototypes, to give observers context.
  • Computer/Device – This person should remain silent and react to the tester’s commands using the paper prototype components. For example, when the tester texts a response to an SMS prompt, the “Device” should swap in the next prompt (tip: be sure to include error messages)
  • Assistant-computer – In times of need, an “assistant-computer” to give the “computer/device” some extra processing power! (i.e., on-the-fly cutting and pasting of missing GUI elements, SMS prompts or messages).
  • Observer – This person writes down everything the testers say and do, but especially what they don’t/can’t do or have difficulty with.


  • Organize your team into the usability testing roles listed above
  • We’ll cycle around the room 3 or 4 times, rotating roles each time
  • Between each cycle, make revisions to your paper prototype bsed on the observations of the previous cycle
  • We want everyone to play each role, and each team should end up with 3 or 4 sets of usability testing observations to use as inputs for refining your prototypes
  • Did your paper prototype improve with each subsequent cycle?


Usability Reports

  • Together with your team, create a new Google Document and title it “Usability Report”
  • Identify your team and the date on the report
  • Create a heading called Methodology and write a description of how you conducted your usability tests, including how many rounds of testers were tested. Also include descriptions of the roles team members performed during testing (see the roles listed above)
  • Create another heading called Objectives and list the specific things your team was looking to validate through the testing
  • Create another heading called Observations and combine the three or four sets of observations into one master list. Be sure to de-duplicate repeated observations

Team Page

  • Create a new heading called “Usability Testing” on your team page on the blog
  • Add a link to your Usability Report under this heading, include the date in the link text

Design Notebooks

  • Individually, create a new slide in your Design Notebook and title it “Usability Testing”
  • Write a brief paragraph highlighting what you learned about your prototype’s usability from the tests
  • Did anything surprise you?
  • Make a list of refinements you’d recommend your team make to your prototype based on the observations from the testing exercises
  • Include a link to your team’s Usability Report on your slide

*Submit the link to your Design Notebook to Canvas before we meet again next week

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *