I recently came across a story about an approach to UX testing being used by Wells Fargo which highlights the importance of experimenting with different ways to conduct UX testing.

At one of its downtown San Francisco branches, Wells Fargo has set up an area called ‘Digital Express’.  This section of the branch provides customers with a series of tablets demonstrating proposed new new digital banking features/functions.  Customers can interact with the prototype solutions and provide quick and direct feedback to the bank, thus allowing the Wells Fargo product development team to ‘…test fast failures in a matter of weeks, rather than months or years’.

It’s an excellent example of the different ways in which UX testing can be conducted.

What is UX testing?

UX (user experience) testing (to adjust a handy definition from Wikipedia) is a technique used in user-centred interaction design to evaluate a product or concept by testing it on users.

UX testing benefits

UX testing provides a host of benefits including:

  • most importantly:  improved product quality (in the eyes of users)
  • increased user satisfaction and trust
  • a reduction in the number of bugs (and associated re-work) identified as part of the end QA process
  • the attendant increase in efficiency in the entire software development lifecycle (which ever model is used)

When do you conduct UX testing?

UX testing is not QA (quality assurance).

  • UX testing occurs at the front of the product design process and is designed to understand any issues with a proposed concept before it’s built.
  • QA occurs towards the back of the process and addresses issues in solutions that have already passed through a build phase.

It typically provides greatest benefit during three stages of the design cycle:

  • when you’re trying to understand user pain points and identify key areas for improvement
  • when you’re putting together product prototypes
  • when you’re validating the ideas embodied in those prototypes


Tools for conducting UX testing

There’s no one approach to UX testing that works for every organisation, product or solution.  Instead, product design teams need to have available a range of UX testing approaches and tools, so that they can use the right tool in each circumstance.

Here’s a selection of approaches and solutions that you might find useful.

  1. Prototyping:  (Axure, Invision)
  2. Recruiting real users:  (Ethnio, Pivot Planet)
  3. Remote moderated & unmoderated user tests:  (Morae, Validately, Usertesting.com)
  4. Heatmap:  (Userzoom, Optimal workshop, Usabilla, Decibel insights, Mousestats, Mouseflow)
  5. Path report:  (Validately, Userzoom)
  6. Card sort:  (Optimal workshop)
  7. Tree testing:  (Optimal workshop)
  8. Surveys:  (Poll Daddy, Survey Gizmo, Survey Monkey)
  9. Click tests:  (Optimal workshop, Userzoom)
  10. Highlight reports:  (Validately, Usertesting.com)
  11. Feedback capture:  (Post-it notes)
  12. Affinity mapping:  (Post-it notes)
  13. In site feedback:  (UserVoice, Qualaroo)

The list isn’t comprehensive list, but it includes the main things we consider using from time to time.  Some tools are pretty ‘fancy’ (eg Axure) – others are avowedly low-tech (eg Post-it notes).

What’s important is picking the right tool for the right situation; as what works for you in one case may not be the same as in another.


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