Tips & Tricks for Creating Scenario-Based Tasks
Web Testing is a great way to remotely evaluate the usability of your website. On the other hand you have to keep in mind that, in unmoderated remote testing, you’re not interacting with your respondents face to face, so the importance of correctly created tasks is huge. We decided to put all of the tips and tricks in one place.
This guideline will help you make scenario-based tasks that, as a consequence, will provide you with insightful and actionable results.
Web Testing is a method of usability testing, which allows you to put real people in real context and see how they interact with your website. The advantage of unmoderated web testing is that you can easily and time-effectively test large quantities of people. Web test things such as how many people managed to successfully complete your tasks, how many clicks they needed to achieve it and how much time it took.
In order to fully benefit from Web Testing, you need to prepare your scenario-based tasks that respondents will be trying to complete.
First things first
Before you start drafting your scenarios you have to lay the groundwork. First and foremost – decide who should take part in your test. Respondents have to match your user personas description, otherwise testing will not give you many valuable insights. If you’re planning to redesign your current website it might be beneficial to ask people who belong to your target group but aren’t necessarily your current users.
There are several ways to make sure that your test will be filled by people who would be likely to interact with your website anyway. You can share a link to your test via social networks or set a popup on your homepage. The fastest and most reliable way to make sure that your test is performed by exactly the kind of people you need is to hire the respondents using a research panel.
Set their age, sex or education level, choose the geographical preferences and you’re good to go. The results will start coming in after just a couple of hours giving you more time to analyze the data and act upon it.
The next thing you need to determine is the set of goals users might want to accomplish on your website. If you’re running a website that allows users to book apartments in London your user goals might be:
– finding a flat in a particular district of the city
– comparing prices of the offers
– booking the flat online
Once you have your users and their goals in mind, you’re ready to start crafting your scenarios.
Your tasks have to be:
Remember the golden rule of user testing? Don’t listen to users! Instead, let them perform the task and see the results of their action. This also pertains to scenario-based tasks. Be careful not to use expressions like “how would you look for” or “where can you find”. Your tasks should be action-based like:
– Find the cheapest flight to Kuala Lumpur.
– Sign up for an online webinar devoted to content marketing.
– Find a way to get regular updates from company X
This is especially important when you’re testing a website with many different small goals to accomplish, for example, an ecommerce. If you have many subpages with different products, take this opportunity! Instead of asking “buy a beauty product”, you should ask “buy a black mascara for less than $14”.
In some web testing tools you have the option to set several URLs as a “success URL”, so there is no need to establish just one correct success page but remember the more specific the task, the better. After all, people who visit cosmetic ecommerces are rarely looking for just any product. Additionally, it provides respondents with scavenger hunt-like reward, which makes the whole test more engaging for them:
– Make an appointment with a therapist for July 26th.
– Get information about discounts for 2013 convertible cars.
– You’ve recently adopted a German Shepherd puppy. Buy 10 pounds of dog food for your new companion.
Even though, the specific tasks will help you engage your audience more, asking general questions will not necessarily harm you. To the contrary, exploratory approach and asking more general questions might also get you interesting and potentially unexpected results.
Before coming up with scenarios for your web test, you’ve got to ask yourself a very important question:
“What do people really do on my website?”
Keep in mind user goals and try to put yourself in the user shoes with every scenario you’re creating. You might be tempted to ask about every tiny detail that you’re not sure about, but the best insights will be obtained when the tasks are realistic for the respondents.
– You are visiting Barcelona next Sunday and need to rent a room.
– You are organizing a Halloween party. Find suitable decorations for under $30.
– You want to return a book you purchased week ago. Submit your request through this website.
Remember The Elements of User Experience model? As you can see, user needs go hand in hand with site objectives. The same goes for your web testing scenarios. They have to be aligned with your business goals, for example, if you’re trying to improve sales in your ecommerce, you probably want to test whether it’s easy for your customers to find and purchase a given product.
If you’re website is aimed at educating people, make sure that the information you’re providing is easy to find.
– You want to make a gift for your friend. Buy a tie for under $20.
– Find a way to take part in the next conversion optimization workshops in Berlin.
– You’re planning summer vacation abroad. Find out how to apply for a passport.
Apart from the three basic features of perfect scenario-based tasks, there are a few other things to keep in mind:
Don’t give out too much information. Always proofread the content of your task and check if there are any terms that appear on your website (for example as menu labels) that could serve as hints for your respondents.
Keep the task simple. You already know that your task should be specific but avoid unnecessary details. Giving context is one thing, but too much of it could frustrate your users and, as a result, affect the results. Basically, all you need to have in your task is a reason for an action and the goal that users need to achieve.
Use simple language. Remember to speak your users’ language, which doesn’t necessarily overlap with the company jargon or your professional terminology.
– Think about the order of the tasks. If you have more than one, you need to carefully plan the order. There usually is a learning curve to performing web tests on any website and you need to take that into account. If completing one task makes completing another one absolutely easy, you will see it reflected in your results.
Choose the right tool
Are you just starting running usability tests? You could probably use some expert advice. Especially for people like you, we’ve created a page, where you can learn about Web Testing from seasoned professionals.
Perfecting your scenario-based tasks could be a meticulous and time-consuming activity. On the other hand, realistic and actionable results are enough of a reward for that. Using this guideline as a checklist you should be able to start gathering these results even faster.