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A user testing plan is the simplest way to guide your testing and ensure it’s being conducted effectively.

It’s especially useful to map out and help demonstrate why user testing is so vital – or you could always just show them our last article. In it, we go over how user testing is tied back to business outcomes, what kinds of user testing there are, who to test with, and where to start. In this post we’ll look at each section a user testing plan should have, and what they could end up looking like.

How do I set up a simple, complete user testing plan?

There are four major sections to this plan. Here they are, at a high level:

  1. The Basics
  2. The Goal, Underlying Objectives, & Tactics
  3. Measuring Success in User Testing
  4. Possible Scripting & Questions/Tasks to Ask

User testing plans don’t have to span pages upon pages. Keep it simple – four sections that provide enough information that someone just jumping on to help could understand what you’re trying to accomplish.

What does each section actually look like?

Let’s go through each section one by one.

  1. The Basics
    Luckily for us, we’ve covered this entire first section here. The basics cover all the planning details – including: who, what, where, when and how. Below is an example of what this could look like:

  2. The Goal, Underlying Objectives & Tactics
    This is the ‘why’ of user testing. You want to clarify if your product goal & strategies are being met, and where the product is falling short. Once you’ve determined your product goal, you need product strategies to make this goal achievable (discussed here). Under each product, strategy will be a feature or tactic to help achieve this goal. For example, if we’re building some software to help a user with their finances, we might want to look at the Overview Dashboard as a feature to test, or the entire registration flow as a tactic if our product goal revolves around a simple and fast experience. We can then make objectives for testing that align with these features/tactics. So, you may want to determine if this dashboard truly does offer the most important information a user wants first. Our objective is to determine the answer to ‘does the dashboard have the right information hierarchy’?
    Once you’re clear about your objectives, then you can start creating simple tasks for a user to complete or asking questions to evaluate whether or not your feature/tactic has met your objective. For example, asking the user to sign onto the dashboard and find out how much her credit score has changed over the last 3 months. You can ask her how she feels about the clarity of that information – does it fall above or below what she expected? Can she explain the information she’s read through in her own words accurately?
    See the example below to visualize the structure of features and objectives:
  3. Measuring Success – How do you take these objectives and create metrics to quantify success? Of the tasks you’ve asked users to perform, how many were performed to a satisfactory level? Perhaps if you’ve asked a user to find a feature, and it takes them 2 different attempts to find it, you label that as a failure. Or if a task takes longer than 10 seconds to complete, it will be labeled as a failure.
  4. Possible Scripting & Questions/Tasks to Ask – This is a great way to outline what will be said before the test and afterward, to ensure the situation is framed well and customers are made to feel comfortable. Questions should be varied, but they should never lead customers to the answer you’re looking for (be wary of this – it can be particularly challenging during the interview itself). Questions and tasks can be specific, like finding one product and adding it to a cart, or exploratory, like asking how a user would find an entire outfit to buy on this platform.

When you break down user testing into these four steps, you make the process digestible and simple to follow through on. We choose this method so our testing is interwoven with the entire product strategy. When you are can understand what you’re trying to achieve at a high-level, every added layer of detail will fall into place.

Want to go a bit more in-depth on how to create a user test?

Check out this deck we’ve put together:

Wait! I have more questions. Can you help?

Definitely. We’re always willing to release more articles to bring a little more clarity to user testing. We can also help companies quickly integrate user testing into their prototypes and products – like, really quickly. Reach out to us if you need guidance!