A few months ago I was asked to assist leading some moderated qualitative usability testing sessions. I’ll be honest: I had little-to-no experience speaking with users, so at the start of the project I didn’t feel like I was fully equipped for the task. The idea of being in a room with someone I didn’t know for an hour and guiding them through a handful of scenarios to validate our design didn’t sound as good as one of my typical design days. However, I knew it would be a good learning experience and said I’d help out.
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“We don’t have the budget or time for user testing,” is something I’ve heard all too often during planning and estimating meetings. Testing with real users has traditionally been an expensive and time-consuming line item in project plans—usually one of the first to be cut when budgets are tightened. It’s no mystery why: most testing methods have classically been stressful to set up, requiring a tremendous amount of scheduling, coordination, resources, and time.