6 Tips for Conducting Rapid Research
Now that you've seen a few examples, here are 6 tips to help you conduct rapid user research during your next project.
Tip 1: Don’t Show Users Information That They Haven’t Acted Upon
Don’t show all the screens. If you're working with a wireframe or a prototype, keep all screens out of sight. Only show participants screens that they have navigated to. Similarly, don’t show a participant what others have done (Ex. dot voting results or other inputs.) Examples others have provided may influence decisions a participant makes. This will skew your results.
Tip 2: Use Tools to Help You
Drafting stencils can help you quickly draw repeated interface elements by hand. Mobile size post-its make it easy to draw mobile-sized mockups while considering the context and limitations of a device. They're also great for sticking to a wall when brainstorming with your team.
Use transparencies and post-it notes if you’re testing wireframes. Post-it notes make it easier for you to simulate modals. Having users write inputs on transparencies with sharpies allows you to reuse the underlying wireframe and save individual responses for later analysis.
For more tools and ideas, see this article by Cameron Chapman
Tip 3: Context Influences Results
As the above images from the New York Times and Nintendo show, how a user interacts with an interface can depend on the device they use. You should test designs using a device format that mirrors how your product will be situated in the real world.
Choose a testing location wisely. A loud or crowded location may be distracting. Additionally, if you want feedback from a specific audience try sourcing participants from a location that audience frequents. For example, a friend of mine was improving the usability of a museum website. She conducted rapid user research with ticket holders inside the Smithsonian Museum in order to better understand her audience.
Try to make the testing setup feel as real and authentic as possible. For example, If you place twenty cameras around a participant they will probably act differently than if they were using your product organically. This would likely skew your results.
Tip 4: Use Real Content for Tests
The fidelity of your prototypes will reveal the fidelity of your ideas. Too little design work makes it difficult to test a realistic user experience. Too much design work makes it difficult for you to change your product based on testing results.
Tip 5: Complete a Test Run Before Running a Session with Participants
Test the test! This will make sure you are gathering desired information when working with participants. It can also help you identify any errors or improvements before you engage your target audience.
Tip 6: Finding people to test your designs isn't hard
Buy them a coffee, or consider sending them a gift card. If all else fails, ask nicely; you'll be surprised by how willing others are to help.
Share Your Favorite Rapid Research Methods
I hope these methods help you test designs frequently. If you’ve used a method for rapid research and would like to share it, feel free to send that my way; I may add it to the list so others can benefit from it, too.