Preparation is key to optimising your user test. To enhance the amount of information you get from your participants, there are certain things you can do prior and during the session. Consider things like ambience, environment, speech and more.
It’s important not to overuse industry jargon. People will be understanding of some basic terms, but bare in mind that the participants you are recruiting do not have a UX background. They are consumers, so stick to simple conversational language.
Bare in mind the meaning of words are subjective to each individual. For example, the word positive may mean above average to one and the highest form of ‘yes’ to another.
Ambience and environment
Distractions are all around us, especially ones we can’t control. Prior to implementing a user test, you should minimise the amount of distractions within the test environment. Consider requesting neighbouring offices to shut down noise for the duration, or ensure you’re in a room with air conditioning to help with user comfort and eliminate any noise from outdoors.
To create an environment with a comfortable ambience, ensure the room positively affects a majority of the five senses. Smell, sight, sound and taste can be controlled using lighting, plants or flowers, food and drink, even background music if appropriate. If people’s senses are overly positive or negative, this can offer as a distraction itself, so try to keep the environment as neutral as possible.
Establishing a valuable rapport with your participants in the introductions for the test helps them feel comfortable. Maintain a meaningful relationship for the duration of the user test, to enhance your participants moods and create a safe environment for them. Regularly remind your users that there is no wrong answer, as it can slip their mind.
These simple tasks can make an extraordinary difference to the quality of results you receive.