DonnaM » Blog Archive » Usability testing: bias doesn’t matter

Usability testing: bias doesn’t matter

Had a thought on the way home today…it actually doesn’t matter if there is a bit of bias in usability tests. All of the effort that we go to to make sure that the test represents the real world, the perfect set of participants are chosen, the scenarios are real and worded beautifully and we introduce no bias into our tests – all a bit of a waste of time really.

More important than doing one perfect test is running multiple tests (and trying not to make them too imperfect). The only time when as much bias as possible should be eliminated is when there is only one usability test – and this isn’t the right way to test anyway.

Usability testing is an inherent part of an iterative user-centred design process. Research, design, test, design, test etc. In this model, a bit of bias doesn’t matter. It is still important to choose the right type of test, make sure the participants are in the user group and that the scenarios aren’t leading. But a leading question here or there won’t hurt. The test won’t unravel on you. You have plenty more chances to explore design and usability issues.

Usability testing as a stand-alone process is wrong. The single test by a usability guru is a waste of money. Put the effort into research and iterative design instead…

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