Heuristic Analyses offer powerful insight into user behavior, but only at a general level—and occasionally raise more questions. If our Actionable Research Question requires that we understand how specific flows or sections of a system perform in real user scenarios, develop Study Plan & Interview Protocol accordingly, then Participant Recruiting & Coordination.
The “truth” of a product or service happens when and where people actually use it. Real life presents a wide array of problems from simple confusion to utter breakdown. Teams need to be able to identify and assess these potential issues, but can’t be there every time a user engages with a product or service.
Testing various aspects of the service experience in a controlled manner will shed light on potential problems, so long as a users’ test experience reliably corresponds to real use, and the users engaged in testing represent those types of people who will actually be using the product.
Consider how to orchestrate users moving through discrete tasks in the product, in order to find "breakdowns"—bugs, misunderstandings, oversights, confusions—throughout those tasks. By their very nature these tests are artificial, even when they are performed on a fully live product. Shape the flow of interaction to best mimic "what really happens out there" as well as understand, along the way, how different this situation is from our user's real world.
Therefore, involve your team and ask for their participation in usability test sessions. Set clear expectations and present users with a sequential set of tasks to perform in the system. Guide users into an open mindset that allows them to think through their tasks and honestly move through tasks in the system, without constant interviewer intervention.
Working closely with cross-functional team members during testing and follow-up steps allows for easier adoption of insights and faster action on agreed-upon issues.
Data Capture, and always Well-Managed Data for these tests. Run Interview Debrief for yourself and any stakeholder participants. If you choose to capture video, ensure time for Video Analysis, and Bug & Defect Tracking where appropriate. Use Effective Reporting your usability results, and add the summary to Public Project Index.