Usability testing – ask NOT tell

If any of you facilitates usability testing then check this…we all know it is not straight forward to drive a usability testing session

3 safe and productive approaches:
Echo – With the echo technique, the facilitator repeats the last phrase or word the user said, while using a slight interrogatory tone.
User: This page is funny, hmmm, not sure what, uh…
Facilitator: page is funny?
Facilitator: Why do you think the page is funny? 
Facilitator: Let me explain…

Boomerang – With the boomerang technique, the facilitator formulates a generic, non-threatening question that she can use to push the user’s question or comment back to him.
User: Do I have to login to checkout?
Facilitator: What do you think?
Facilitator: Yes, there is a link on the right…

Colombo – With the Columbo technique, be smart but don’t act that way. One way to do this is to ask just part of a question, and trail off, rather than asking a thorough question.
User: If I click close here will I lose my selections?
Facilitator: Uhm, you are wondering if [pause]
Facilitator: No, Close will save and close, and OK will save and proceed 
User: I am just not really sure if I should pick “close” or “ok”

Overall, we should focus on triggering information than giving a download…


6 thoughts on “Usability testing – ask NOT tell

  1. Nice crisp blog post. I agree these are ‘safe and productive’ techniques because they don’t really intimidate the user, nor impose the readymade answer on them. When the users are ‘encouraged’ to explore the product and discover by themselves, it is very helpful to study how to go about doing that – are they getting frustrated by what appears to be a complex interaction design to them, or they have some existing mental models that are not working well here, or if they are simply loving it!

    • So true. I strongly feel that one has to prep to drive usability interviews to ensure that we let people explore. Also miss understand if they are as that means that we need to change the design but NOT every time.

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