User Testing FAQ/Resources

This page provides general resources for user testing.

What Is User Experience Design? Overview, Tools And Resources (Smashing Magazine)
Web applications have become progressively more complex as our industry’s technologies and methodologies advance. What used to be a one-way static medium has evolved into a very rich and interactive experience.

User Experience Basics (
User experience (UX) focuses on having a deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and also their limitations. It also takes into account the business goals and objectives of the group managing the project. UX best practices promote improving the quality of the user’s interaction with and perceptions of your product and any related services.

Usability & Web Accessibility (Yale University)
Yale University has an easy-to-understand website for beginning user experience professionals. This site contains templates, best practices, and simple recommendations into integration into web presence planning.

Web Usability Articles (Nielsen Norman)
These Nielsen Norman resources are geared mainly general website usability practices, organized by topics, popular and recent articles, and much more. Great place for beginning user experience professionals to engage in an introductory exploration on this topic. is a federal governement resource (specifically, a website) dedicated to usability practices, which range from user testing to content strategy to good design and so much more. Free templates, checklists, and other resources are available her. It’s a great tool for a user experience pracititioner to move from exploring UX to doing it.

UX Planet
Includes sections on Usability for Beginners and User Research

Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug: Usability Demo
Author Steve Krug’s demo test as a companion piece to his latest book, Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems. The main purpose for creating this video is to demonstrate how easy and simple usability testing can be. 25 minutes.

Usability Testing Demystified (A List Apart)
There seems to be this idea going around that usability testing is bad, or that the cool kids don’t do it. That it’s old skool. That designers don’t need to do it. What if I told you that usability testing is the hottest thing in experience design research? Every time a person has a great experience with a website, a web app, a gadget, or a service, it’s because a design team made excellent decisions about both design and implementation—decisions based on data about how people use designs. And how can you get that data? Usability testing.

Usability Testing (
Usability testing refers to evaluating a product or service by testing it with representative users. Typically, during a test, participants will try to complete typical tasks while observers watch, listen and takes notes. The goal is to identify any usability problems, collect qualitative and quantitative data and determine the participant’s satisfaction with the product.

5 Steps to Usability Testing (Yale University)
If you want a usable site, you have to test. Learn how to conduct a usability test in 5 steps.

How to Conduct Usability Testing from Start to Finish (UX Mastery)
How to Conduct Usability Testing from Start to Finish

Checklist for Planning Usability Studies (Nielsen Normal Group)
Planning a user test? Follow these 9 steps to make sure you are prepared.

Objectives drive the whole process of impact evaluation. In setting objectives, you need to choose where to get involved, the mission of the study, and impact areas. This chapter also talks about traps to avoid, such as areas where you have little or no control, only adopting the objectives of your parent organization, and being unrealistic about what can be demonstrably achieved. “If we are to focus on impact we need to articulate precisely what we are trying to achieve rather than how we will get there. If we don’t generate specific and time-limited objectives to help focus on impact, we will end up monitoring efficiency instead.”

Markless, S., & Streatfield, David. (2013). “Getting things clear: objectives.” Evaluating the impact of your library (Second ed.). London: Facet Publishing.

How to set usability goals for user testing. (UX Passion)
Learn how to create usability goals.

How to choose a user research method (UX Planet)
Starts with testing goals and describes how to choose testing methods based on those goals.

When to Use Which User-Experience Research Methods (Nielsen Norman Group)
Gives brief summaries of 20 UX methods and explains how each method tests UX differently. Also helpful for determining which testing methods are complementary.

7 Great, Tried and Tested UX Research Techniques (Interaction Design Foundation)
General summary of some of the most common testing methods and the benefits of each.

How to choose a user research method (UX Planet)
Starts with testing goals and describes how to choose testing methods based on those goals.

Writing Tasks for Quantitative and Qualitative Usability Studies (Nielsen Norman)
All usability studies involve asking participants to perform tasks, but the correct way to write those tasks depends on the methodology you’re using. Good quantitative tasks are concrete and focused, while good qualitative tasks are open-ended, flexible, and exploratory.

From Research Goals to Usability-Testing Scenarios: A 7-Step Method (Nielsen Norman)
Describes 7 steps to turn testing goals into specific tasks and user scenarios.

Write better qualitative Usability Tasks: Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid (Nielsen Norman)
10 mistakes to avoid when writing tasks for a usability study. Nielsen Norman Group.

Usability Metrics (Nielsen Norman)
Describes usability metrics, which are quantitative data gathered over time to test iterations of website design.

Usability Testing Questions (WAI)
Sample questions, tasks, and post-test survey questions from W3C.

Template and Downloadable Documents (
Templates and documents for many aspects of usability testing.

With Measurable Usability Goals – We All Score
Explains how to set goals that are precise, measurable, and task-focused and includes a template for documenting goals.

How Many Testers in a Usability Study? (Nielsen Norman)
Explains why less is sometimes more when choosing how many people to include in user testing.

Why You Only Need to Test with Five Users (Nielsen Norman)
A pithy explanation from the Nielsen Norman group explaining why more tests with fewer users give the best result for your testing effort.

How to find great participants for your user study (Google Ventures)
Advice from a Google Ventures UX researcher with how-to information for recruitment. Includes a worksheet for devising a user screening tool.

Recruiting Test Particpants for Usability Studies (Nielsen Norman)
Although this Nielsen Norman page is geared mainly towards hiring an outside recruiter, with information on the probable costs, it includes a link to a comprehensive report on recruitment

Communicating User Research Findings (UX Matters)
Advice on how to choose reporting formats, with excellent tips on getting the most important points across in a strong, effective way.

Making Usability Findings Actionable: 5 Tipes for Writing Better Reports (Nielsen Norman)
Five things to focus on in reporting results to convey the most important changes to be made quickly, and to inform future efforts.

Usability Test Report (
This downloadable report template in Word format has explanations and examples for each feature of the report.

Decision Frames: How Cognitive Biases Affect UX Practitioners
How a fact is reported makes a big difference in the perceptions of a reports consumer; this page explains aware of framing bias and how to avoid over-influencing decision making. Nielsen Norman Group.

Markless, S., & Streatfield, David. (2013). “Thinking about evidence.” Evaluating the impact of your library (Second ed.). London: Facet Publishing.
Chapter 8 section 8.4, “Ethical Evidence-gathering.”

Created by UX Librarian Rebecca Blakistan, the UX@UA site is an up to date community resource hosted at the University of Arizona, including a calendar of events, UX documentation, and even their popular UX Cookbook of handcrafted design recipes.

Designing for Digital
Designing for Digital is a three day conference intended largely for library professionals, and which focuses upon usability topics.

Nielsen Norman Group UX Conference
The Nielsen Norman Group UX Conference is a full-day, immersive learning with same NN/g researchers and invited speakers. UX Conference courses are packed with examples and guidelines.

Weave is an open-access and peer-reviewed online journal for user experience practitioners in library environments. Published by Michigan Publishing, this journal publishes practical articles on usability work within librares twice a year.

Optimal Workshop
Optimal Workshop is a user research design platform and includes usability tools to help improve your website navigation, define information architecture, understand first-clicks, and capture qualitative research.

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Usability Testing (Nielsen Norman)
An overview of when to use qualiative or quanitative methods for user testing. There is a helpful table breaking down the difference between the two approaches and focuses on how they relate to an iterative design cycle.

Card Sorting.
From the The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed., this in-depth overview covers the cart sorting user testing methodology. Card sorting is an activity involving the grouping and/or naming of objects or concepts This resource gives a practical example overview, history of card sorting, the best approach for qualitative and quantitative outcome, and suggestion on how to coordinate a card sort activity.

A Primer on A/B Testing (A List Apart)
“In an A/B test, you compare two versions of a page element for a length of time to see which performs better. Users will see one version or the other, and you’ll measure conversions from each set of users. A/B tests help designers compare content such as different headlines, call to action text, or length of body copy. Design and style choices can be tested, too; for example, you could test where to place a sign-in button or how big it should be. A/B tests can even help you measure changes in functionality, such as how and when error messages are shown.” In this List Apart Article, the author covers what is A/B Testing, how to decide on what to test, and suggestions on how to implement the test. This is a good basic overview for the A/B testing method.

5 Steps to Quick-Start A/B Testing (UX Booth)
“Sometimes called split testing, [A/B testing] is a method for comparing two versions of something to determine which one is more successful.” Rather than relying on team members’ opinions, A/B testing can provide data to make a choice between two option. The article describes five big, broad steps: identify a goal, form a hypothesis, design and run a test, analyze the results, and implement. At the end, the article provides a list of more detailed guides, tools, and case studies.

Persona Method
From the The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed., this indepth overview covers the user persona method. This resource is an overview about how user personas are used in design and development processes. The author breaks down different aspects of personas creation from perspectives like goal-directed and role-based user personas. It also gives explanations for why user stories, scenarios, and use cases are crucial for design success.

Involving Users in Web Projects for Better, Easier Accessibility (W3C)
Emphasizes the importance of users engaging and being involved with your design and development processes. The resource places accessibility at the center of user engagement with your process. It also highlights the importance of combining user involvement with standards for web application development.

User Testing Persona Resources
Example personas from Alliance institutions, how to’s, and tips

Talking with Participants During a Usability Test (Nielsen Norman)
Focuses on the importance of user testing facilitators “talking less and learn more” approach to working with users. Good resource for thinking through approaches to facilitator behaviors during usability studies.

Observer Guidelines for Usability Research (Nielsen Norman)
Provides guidelines for test implementors assuming the role of observer or notetaker. Topics include how to observe a research session, notetaking instructions, and has an example of what user testing notetaking looks like.

  • Buley, Leah. (2013). The user experience team of one: A research and design survival guide. Brooklyn, NY: Rosenfeld Media.
  • Goodman, E., Kuniavsky, M., & Moed, A. (2012). Observing the user experience: A practitioner’s guide to user research (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.
  • Krug, S. (2006). Don’t make me think! : A common sense approach to Web usability (2nd ed.). Berkeley, Calif: New Riders.
  • Krug, S. (2010). Rocket surgery made easy : The do-it-yourself guide to finding and fixing usability problems (Voices that matter). Berkeley, Calif.: New Riders.
  • Markless, S., & Streatfield, David. (2013). Evaluating the impact of your library (Second ed.). London: Facet Publishing.
  • Miller, Luke. (2015). The practitioner’s guide to user experience design. New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing.
  • Norlin, E. (2000). Usability testing for library web sites: A hands on-guide. Chicago, IL: American Library Association Editions.
  • Portigal, S. (2013). Interviewing users: How to uncover compelling insights. Brooklyn, NY: Rosenfeld Media.
  • Quesenberry, W. & Brooks, K. (2010). Storytelling for user experience: Crafting stories for better design. Brooklyn, NY: Rosenfeld Media.