Prepare To-Do Lists for User Testing on a New Website

In preparing a list of tasks for a user test for a new or redesigned website, keep in mind the main goals of the website. For example, if the main objectives of the site are to get people to buy products and to become registered users, these goals should drive the list of tasks to test.

Create a task list you want each user to have but be sure to make a separate edition for yourself that includes your own questions for users about each task. Here’s how to make a task list:

  1. Create a scenario that places the user in a particular role.

    For example, tell them, “You’re a customer looking to buy a book and sign up to be a registered user because you’ve heard you’ll save 10 percent on your purchase.” As you can see, this scenario exactly mirrors the top two goals of the site, but is a little more focused on a specific task.

    Place this scenario statement at the top of the document that you give to users. With the proper mindset, users’ comments become more focused and relevant. For example, they may say, “Well, if I hear that I can get 10 percent off by registering, I’d want to register first.” This is a great nugget of information! Because you want them to buy first, not register first, perhaps your designs should include a “Save 10% on your purchase by registering during checkout” message prominently throughout the store. This way, users see how to get the discount and can focus on shopping.

  2. Create three to four mini-tasks that you want the user to try.

    List these tasks below the scenario statement. The tasks can either be in the form of questions, such as “How would you buy a book called Web Design For Dummies?” or action requests, such as “Tell me how you would sign up to receive e-mail coupons from the company.” The questions should be targeted toward a specific action and not too broad.

  3. Make your own cheat sheet.

    Create a separate document for yourself that lists each scenario and task set just as it does on the user’s copy. At the top of your cheat sheet, however, list the main objectives of the site. Within each set of tasks, be sure to write your own questions so you can remember to ask the same things of each user.

    A sample user testing sheet.
    A sample user testing sheet.
    Create your own “cheat sheet” version of the testing sheet.
    Create your own “cheat sheet” version of the testing sheet.
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