Testing your UI » Recon.io
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Testing your UI

As a developer, you probably test your code to make sure it works, but how often do you get people to test your user interface?

When you're developing or designing a product, you become incredibly familiar with it. You know how it works under the hood, you know what it does and how to make things to happen. You know it better than anyone. But that can make it incredibly difficult to create an interface that new users will find intuitive, simple and easy to pick up. Because you know it inside out, you can't see it from a fresh perspective. To truly see the flaws, you need to test how people see it for the first time.

Asking your friends to beta test is a good start, but remember that you're unlikely to get back the level of criticism that you really need to hear. Friends tend to focus on the good things, and the bad news you get is more likely to be sugarcoated. The best advice comes from people who don't know you, speak the truth and aren't afraid to offend.

Lately, I've been using a service called BetaPunch. It works by recruiting people to try out your app and follow the instructions that you set. It records a video of their browser using your app, and they use their mic to talk through what they're doing and what they're expecting to happen. I've found it extremely useful for getting an honest view of how people use the site for the first time.

If you've never done user testing before, trust me - it's eye opening. It can be intensely frustrating. You'll probably find yourself shouting at the screen. But it uncovers issues that you thought were obvious, but that clearly aren't - the bottlenecks in user behaviour. It shows you the things that put your users off, and ultimately helps you refine and improve your product.

November, 2012

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