Writing tasks for prototype usability testing


people writing tasks for prototype usability testing a website green background


Usability testing is a UX research method that enables us to understand how to allow users to interact with your product or application. If you wish to create the most effective final product, you must anticipate actual real-world scenarios during the initial prototype usability testing stage.

Prototypes are considered the first draft in the stage of development before we get to a final product. The prototypes are distributed to real users to find out weaknesses and areas of improvement within a product or application. It is referred to as prototyping usability testing.

How to write tasks for prototype usability testing

Prototypes are a great way to evaluate the features, design, UX, and business strategy prior to coding the final product. Because in later stages, you'll require lots of time and funds to reverse the launch and make the necessary modifications. The report of IEEE "Why software fails" highlights that we can avoid rollback and rework If we start testing at the beginning of the UX design process.

Write in simple, easy, and simple tasks. Write as you speak and always avoid sounding academic or too scientific.

Why should you be concerned about prototype usability tests at this point while prototyping already has an ample to-do list? Because you're designing the product for real-life use, therefore the product should be tested on real users to prepare it for the real world scenario. Prototypes are designed for experimentation; therefore, to get the real output, you have to test it with real people.

Testing your designs by users in the initial prototyping phase could help prevent a website launch or launch of a product from going badly wrong. It's better to spot UX issues before it goes live rather than rectify them after sales have been lost or when real customers are upset.

The first step is to write a good task script. A prototype usability test that is conducted with poorly-written tasks is similar to playing the piano that is out of tune. Even if you hit all of the correct notes, the outcome will be horrible. The significance is more important for a prototype usability test, as users will require careful instruction in order to navigate the limited functionality. Hence, the first step toward success is to write an excellent task script.

UX101 for designing good tasks for your prototype usability testing

The most efficient method to know the effectiveness of a design is to see how people utilize it. When conducting prototype usability testing, we look at participants' behavior by giving them the task/activity to complete. Instead of telling them to "do task X" without any explanation, this brief situation sets the stage for the activity and explains the task. When we write good tasks, we are able to make our products more robustly tested to gain the insight that is required.

General tips for writing prototype usability testing tasks

Once you've established the end-user goals, you can create tasks for your prototype to aid in obtaining the most precise and beneficial results from UX research. It isn't possible to collect helpful information using random or fake data in your prototypes or task scenarios.

Prototype usability testing is the safest way to move forward and ensure that your product will not meet its inevitable end, but the question is when to test the prototype?

Another mistake that is often made during testing is to stop or modify the test when the test users experience difficulties. Because the purpose in testing is to identify and resolve issues, this scenario could result in a successful test. If, for instance, the user takes a wrong turn on pathways that aren't created yet in the prototype, you can inquire about what they did as well as what it is they'd like to achieve. A few additional questions regarding the issues will provide better feedback as compared to a user who has a "perfect run."

Some experts prefer the early testing of prototypes using rough designs, while others suggest using higher-fidelity prototypes. However, we recommend that testing at all fidelity levels is the best practice. We will guide you below low-fidelity tests are ideal for testing concepts. In contrast, higher-fidelity tests are computer-based interactive presentations of applications or products that require more advanced functionality and technology. However, you should use both combinations to get the most accurate results.

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Low fidelity:

These tests include paper prototypes, paper-based designs or drawings; this method can work in the early development stages when the design stage is completed.

Paper prototype testing is the traditional approach for prototype usability testing. This method involves a hand sketch, drawing of the models, or prototype that enables you to uncover early-stage insights/feedback.

Later, you have to carry out a prototype usability test to check the advanced functionalities of the product, and the lo-fi prototypes won’t be beneficial due to their fidelity limits.

High fidelity:

You have to test the hi-fi prototype when you receive lo-fi and user test data. In an early stage of testing, hi-fi prototypes are a computer-based interactive representation which provides the user with the closest resemblance to the final design.

In order to create a hi-fi prototype, you need to get the right tool. InVision, Adobe XD, Pixate, and Protio.io are widely trusted tools in the market.

Key points to help with writing prototype usability tasks

The following steps will ensure successful testing sessions to create UX research-informed products.

  1. Know what you are going to test and why
  2. Define the user persona for your test
  3. Select a prototype (Low-fidelity or High-fidelity)
  4. Select the prototype usability testing technique
  5. Tools to facilitate the testing process
  6. Evaluation of the test (quantitative and qualitative feedback from your UX research questions)
  7. Implement changes to your products based on the feedback

In the end, testing your prototypes is just the first step. It's also important to find a quick and simple method to make modifications and improve the user experience.

The outcomes of your prototyping tests do not always require complete redesigning or massive changes. Sometimes it requires minor modifications.

Point to consider when writing task scenarios for prototype usability testing

Writing tasks to conduct usability testing that perfectly reflects users’ goals can be a bit challenging. In the ideal scenario, you'll need to create tasks that are achievable that can be completed and don't give clues in a scenario; avoid using unusual or distinctive terms in your app or website.

Task scenarios have an immediate influence on the results of your UX research. If you give users poor scenarios, you might direct them to choose one specific action rather than what they would normally choose in the same scenario. This means that your results and conclusions won't be as valuable as your expectation.

There are some common mistakes you must avoid when creating writing task scenarios. By avoiding them, you can develop better task scenarios and get better and more accurate user testing results for your application or product.

Avoid misleading users in the task scenarios

Task scenarios will engage the users with an application. They basically simulate a real-time scenario for the user to interact with a real-time application to perform or accomplish the task.

If you use words that can provide clue task scenarios, you tell test participants exactly how they have to react to a particular task.

Instead, create task scenarios that don't provide any clue or contain the words which can force users to complete a task in a particular way.

Please find examples below.

In many cases, users will require a sequence of steps to finalize a task. When you're testing your prototype usability to perform these tasks, ensure that you're not guiding users precisely what to do and where to go; provide them helpful suggestions instead.

For example, you want to create a user goal to buy tickets on your website for an upcoming event. Below are examples of how not to word your scenario and how you should word it.

Poor task scenario example

You want to attend an upcoming event. Visit the website, complete the registration form for the event, select a pass, and purchase the ticket. You must use credit card for the payment.

Good task scenario example

You are purchasing a ticket for an upcoming event. You are brought to this site to complete your purchase.

Avoid very simple or complex tasks

Your task shouldn't be too simple, and if you create a very simple task scenario, you might not get appropriate insight to improve your product or application. The best method is to create task scenarios that aren't too basic or too complex.

Always create realistic tasks that make participants use your application to find details will allow you to get a better understanding of what areas require improvements.

Creating tasks that are either too straightforward or complicated will not help you improve the design of your user interface and can confuse participants in the test?

Continuous prototype usability testing leads to continuous improvements

The UX design process for your product shouldn't remain static. It is important to constantly improve it. Testing prototypes is an excellent method to collect feedback at various stages of the development process. It's an excellent method to gather feedback prior to your product or update going on the market.

You should consider various options for testing prototypes and find ways to follow up with the tester after the implementation of any changes. This way, you're constantly learning and improving your product.

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