Now that we have an overview of the types of tests you can do, we’re going to focus on usability testing. The next step is to define your user testing scenario so participants embody while they’re interacting with the prototypes.

With a context, your participants shift their state of mind from the tension of been tested to a situation that they can relate and feel more comfortable while they perform the actions that you need to get valuable insights.

How to write a good user testing scenario:

Write it in their language:

Firstly, It’s very important the participant understands clearly and fell that they can use their common language to tell you what and how they got to that point.

Avoid keywords:

Where possible, try to avoid using keywords that also happen to be your navigation labels. This is so participants aren’t scanning for those keywords in your prototype and potentially selecting them when they may not understand what they mean.

What to do, not how to do:

Finally write the scenario in terms of what they’re trying to achieve, not in terms of what actions you want them to perform. Tell them what you want them to do, achieve, or find out, but don’t tell them how.

Example of a good user testing scenario:

“Imagine that your friend is a coffee lover and their birthday is coming up. You stumble across this site and decide to check it out.”

By specifying what actions you want them to take, you’re leading them to your conclusion by telling them how. Unless you only want to test that specific feature, try to keep it broad so that participants take it in the direction they would do in a more realistic scenario.

Example of a bad user testing scenario:

“Do a search for coffee gift boxes”.

In the example above, the majority of participants will be looking for the keyword “gift boxes” and if that’s what you have as a navigation label, it’s hard to tell whether that would have been the keyword they would be searching for. Some participants could use the search function on your site to search for “coffee gift boxes” which can skew the approach that people have in real life because of the use of the word ‘search’ in the scenario. With a more open question, people are free to approach it how they would in a real scenario — with some performing searches, some looking up coffee subscription products or some looking specifically for gifts.

In some cases, you might have a broad task to capture what participants would normally do, followed by a more specific scenario to test specific features in the interface.