5 Killer Hallway Usability Testing Tips

Hallway usability testing is one of the most common usability testing methods.   Any modern personnel involved in production of new products and services will agree that conducting a usability test is an inevitable part of the entire process. There are many advantages of usability tests. The most common benefit is that developers are able to identify usability problems and correct them before the actual introduction of the products/services to the public. This improves the user and customer experience and also reduces failures associated with ambiguity or service/product usability.

As its name suggests, this procedure involves picking random hallway passer-bys to participate in a usability test.

5 Killer Hallway Usability Testing Tips

1. The Right Location

One of the most important factors in hallway usability tests is location. As opposed to picking expert usability testing professionals, hallway tests require one to choose random people. This implies using passing by strangers. You therefore need to pick a location that has many people passing through it at any given time. This way, you will not run short of participants. Hallway testing is suitable for preliminary development stages where serious problems that hinder further user progress are to be determined. This therefore needs participants of average intelligence.

The location should experience numerous people passing through it like in café hallway entries. In regards to location, you should also ensure the timing is perfect. Since such tests usually take up to ten minutes, you should pick a time when most people are free to spare such amount of time. Staging a usability test when people are rushing to their workplaces or hungry for lunch would be inconveniencing and unreasonable. Weekends and other relaxed hours like evenings are much better options.

2. Comprehensive Planning

This is another important aspect of conducting a successful hallway usability test. As much as the tests are spontaneous, comprehensive pre-test planning must be carried out. This involves availing all the required materials and check-listing to confirm all are in place as well as preparing the steps to be taken. Planning also involves preparing the test location so that it is ready before you start stopping any stranger midway their private walks.

This may require you to arrive early at the scene, assemble materials and test products or services and create an atmosphere suitable for conducting the test. Planning is however not only limited to last minute finishes. You need to be looking forward to the test months before the actual day. Ensure all the stages that precede usability testing are completely accomplished in order to fully focus on the testing itself. This will help you design more effective tests before participants are invited for the procedure.

3. Have Greeters

Just like hospitality institutions choose the most beautiful ladies to invite guests to dine in their hotels, hallway usability testing also needs efficient greeters. Not everyone has the charm and ability to stop a stranger and convince them to take part in a usability testing. Some strangers will also not be interested and may respond with mean gestures, which is only natural.

You should therefore come up with a team of charming greeters who can stop random participants walking through a hallway and convince them to take part in your test. To increase the chances of stopping participants, other motivation mechanisms like awarding them are highly advised. The gifts do not necessarily have to be expensive. Small things like pens or a notebook will do just fine and provide the desired results. The greeters also have no mandatory gorgeousness qualification. Only the right communication skill and attitude or personality is required.

4. Always Explain the Purpose to Participants

This is one of the most important aspects of conducting any successful usability test. It does not only involve the overview intention, but also includes a few technical insights to help the participant know what your key objectives are. Explaining the test’s purpose and what you are seeking to know will help participants fully engage in your test to bring out the best results. This will result in more information and revelations originally not thought of, which is the main intention of hallway usability tests.

There have been instances when developers explained the purpose, but still arrived at poor results and deductions. This may be due to unclear definition of the test purposes during the planning stage. You should know all the things this test is designed to achieve and communicate this information to your participants. At this stage, it is important to ensure the usability test does not align as a market research where general opinion and perspectives are required. Have a debriefing session after the test to find out more insights on the participants experience and find out whether they understood the tests purpose.

5. Review and Practice

Reviewing is another vital part of the testing. You can conduct as many usability tests as desired. The important thing is to review your findings and modify where necessary. If the findings need further research, it is always advised to conduct another hallway test. You should also be looking at conducting various tests in different places depending of the size of your target market (those whom you intend to sell the product, service or software currently under development).

This will ensure you get varying results that can be used to develop a more all-rounded product or service. The participants should also be of your target market. This means that stopping folks in their 50s to take part in a usability testing and evaluating a product meant for those in their 20s is totally ingenious.

Conclusion

The above five tips will help you conduct a successful usability test that meets all your needs. There are companies that specialize in finding the perfect locations for hallway tests and their services can be of great importance. The advantage of usability tests is that the can be done over and over until all problems have been solved. Hallway usability testing is quite impromptu and can present you with several insights on how to reduce user brick walls (progress-hindering problems).

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Jessica Miller
Jessica is the Lead Author & Editor of UsabilityLab Blog. Jessica writes for the UsabilityLab blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to usability.
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