How to Setup a Desktop Usability Test

When you’re planning to do usability testing for a desktop experience, there is a lot of things to think about when it comes to preparing materials and setting up the space.

I’ve got a usability test set up here and ready to go. So let me walk you through how all the items fit together and what you’ll need to conduct your study if you’ve prepared tasks rather than verbally providing the task to the user. It’s a good idea to have these printed out for your users to refer to during the activity in case they’re unsure about how to proceed. It’s also nice to have them read these out loud so you can be sure they understand the activity. And if you’re filming the session, you have an understanding of what activity they’re working on at any point in the recording. Also, have your payment and consent form ready to go. You’ll want to provide payment and have your participants read and sign the form before you get started if you’re filming during the session. We also suggest having printed out this think out loud protocol document, since you’ll be asking them to think out loud during the session. It’s nice to have them warmed up by reading this. Think out loud protocol to you before getting started. You’ll want a computer for your participant to use during the session. It’s best to get a large screen laptop or a typical sized monitor. If you’re working with a desktop PC, have an external mouse available too. For those users who might not be comfortable using the track pad on its own if the mouse is wireless. Also make sure to check those batteries beforehand. We suggest having a separate display mirroring the user screen for the observers to watch the session on. This makes it easier to see what’s going on without crowding that participant. If you’re recording, you can use the computer’s microphone and webcam if you have one.

If not, we just suggest using a separate microphone or a webcam setup. Also, don’t forget to have a comfortable chair for your participant. It’s best if the chair is not on wheels so they aren’t compelled to spin, rock or fidget during the session before your participant arrives, get whatever software up and running that you’re using to record the session and always test it beforehand to make sure it’s functioning properly. You don’t want to end up without recordings. After a long day of testing. Once you have all these key elements in place, you’re ready to start.

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