Ask the UXpert: Grow Your Understanding of UX with new StartupsHK Column on User Experience

Patti and kristin at hive
This new column is written by Patti Hunt who has 15+ years of experience in roles spanning various disciplines of human-centered design including UX, service and strategic design.

She is also the co-founder of On-Off Design & Technology which specializes in great user experiences, on and offline. You can follow them on Twitter @onoffhk

Introducing a new column

User experience (UX) design is an important part of any startup journey – and providing a great customer experience is critical to the viability and profitability of any business. This week, we’re pleased to introduce a brand new column to answer all your questions about UX!

In partnership with local UX and Service Design startup On-Off,‘Ask the UXpert’ takes a “designer founder” look at your business, products and services, with advice about how you can improve. It’s a great way to get some ‘uxpert’ advice and exposure for your business.

As there are no “Dear UXpert” emails this week (it being our first post ‘n all), let’s kick off with one of the most common UX questions we get asked (as in all the time):

“How many users do I need to test with?”

Now this could be one of those “it depends” type answers that could go on (and on) forever, but I’m going to give you the simplest “rule of thumb” answer, based on lots of experience: Five.

‘Why five?’ I hear you ask… or was that just me talking to myself? No matter. According to this article by usability guru Jakob Nielson, testing with five representative users will uncover 85% of the UI problems, while testing with 15 will uncover almost all of them. So why not test with 15? I hear myself asking myself once again – well, put simply, it’s all about maximising bang for your buck.

If budget permits, myself and Jakob suggest testing over several ‘rounds’ of user interface (UI) design iterations. So instead of conducting 15 user tests in the first round, conduct 3 rounds (with 5 users per round) and you will get a far better outcome. Doing it this way not only uncovers 85% of the problems in the first round of testing, but in subsequent rounds you’ll also get to validate the improvements you make to try and fix the problems.

This UX method uncovers the most interesting finding of all: you don’t truly know anything. What you thought was a great solution to a problem you observed will be put to the test. You’ll find that your solution may, in fact, be counter-intuitive, confusing, or downright invisible to your users! We seem to expect people to understand or know certain things based on our understanding, but user testing will make you question your own sanity (“click there, there! it’s right in your face!”), the sanity of your users (“how do I go back?”) and the sanity of your client (“can you please make the logo bigger?”).

This is why you should always test with real, bona-fide users. Your co-workers, your client and your dear old grand-mother are not acceptable stand-ins for your customers and end-users.

On-Off is a HK-based experience design company, founded by Patti Hunt and Kristin Low. For UX advice about your business: send your questions, links and screenshots to [email protected]

Patti Hunt on Startbase.HK: Patti Hunt

On-Off Design & Technology on Startbase.HK: On-Off Design & Technology

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