Their Questions Are Your Answer

What do you do when you visit a website for the first time? Perhaps you write down lists of things you like and don’t like about the design. Or maybe you take time from the task at hand to think about how it makes you feel. Personally, I like to talk out loud about the things I’m doing on the screen because I enjoy the looks I get from people around me.

Just kidding.

When conducting a usability test, don’t take your test subject out of their natural exploration process by throwing a bunch of predetermined questions at them. Instead, capture their own questions as they breakdown what they’re looking at. Whether someone is visiting a new website or using a product for the first time, they think through basic questions such as:

  • What can I do with this?
  • What does that button do?
  • Where is the information I’m looking for?
  • What are they asking me to do?
  • Is this something I want?

You’ll be surprised how simple your users’ questions are, and how often you’re not addressing them.

Make sure your website or product answers every one of those questions. The most common questions should be answered first. It’s okay to not answer each question explicitly, but users should be able to quickly figure it out themselves by briefly playing with a feature.

In design, it’s never about you. Even when you’re looking for answers they can often be found in someone else’s questions.

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