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user test

The User Test, also termed ‘Thinking Aloud User Testing’, is one of the most frequently used qualitative methods for concept and solution development, whether in relation to the usability testing of a digital platform or physical prototype. It’s a method that students can use to investigate usability and serves to reveal deficiencies at various levels in relation to user needs.

For example, when testing a website it may relate to design, functions, navigation, terminology, content or interactivity. One could also look at areas such as search functions or content pages.

The benefit of the User Test is that it provides insight into what users actually do while they solve a specific task. This is in contrast to the qualitative interview where the users reflect upon their past behaviour and experiences.

The User Test is an integral user-driven tool that can be deployed in an innovation process. The User Test may be used during the initial research phase, as students investigate an existing product or digital solution they want to develop or upgrade. But typically it is implemented well into the innovation process during design-, function- and content development.


  • Ask the students to assign roles beforehand. Typically, these roles include a test manager, i.e., the one leading the interview, an observer that takes notes and a test person.
  • The user test usually begins with a short briefing during which the test manager clarifies test guidelines and the background for the test. This helps to comfort users by creating an atmosphere of calmness and trust.
  • Ask the test person to complete a range of tasks during which he/she get to experience the website or prototype being tested. The test person is asked to articulate what he/she is doing, experiencing, searching for, thinking or missing while completing the task at hand.

Worth Considering

After the test, time should be allotted for students to seek the key points and conclusions necessary to further develop or change the concept or prototype. Here students might want to deploy the clustering method. The user test can therefore be used to ensure a user-friendly and sustainable concept.

It may take a while to decide what should be user-tested, so provide students with adequate time to prepare.


The students should create an interview guide with tasks that address parts or the entirety of their concept being tested.

Materials needed:

  • Note block/ computer for notes
  • A prototype to test, e.g. hand drawn sketches or a functional prototyp for a website
  • Computer, if testing a website
  • Possibly a recorder or video recorder


Garret, Jesse James, 2003: The Elements of User Experience – User-centred design for the web. New Riders.

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