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Scenario-based testing

Scenario-based testing gets users to perform specific tasks related to your website information architecture (IA).

Why do scenario-based testing?


The results will help you understand how users complete a task on your website. This is so you can improve your IA and create a better user experience.

Prep timePeopleRun time
2 hours to 1 day4 to 8up to 45 minutes

Preparation

  • conduct the testing in a quiet place where users can focus on the task
  • a room with a large table
  • post-it notes in 2-3 colours so that you can highlight questions
  • pens and paper to write on

Materials

  • access to computers (laptops or desktops)
  • internet access

How to run a scenario-based testing session


To test the main areas of your IA design, ask users to complete a specific IA related task:

  • Find a specific piece of information on your website using the IA.
  • Use the IA to move around the site and complete some tasks along the way.

Example of scenario-based testing

You (the user) needs to tell Centrelink that your weekly wage has changed. Find out what you need to do.

Ask specific questions

Ask your users to complete a specific set of questions relevant to the task. This could be questions like:

  • navigate to the Centrelink website
  • find the information you need
  • describe how you would complete the task of submitting information.

There is no set number of questions/tasks you should include in your testing.

Record and document

Record and document the progress and results. Be careful not to include keywords from your IA in the testing questions, as this will influence your results.

Be mindful that most people will start to get tired at around 45 minutes.

Get users discussing their decisions

Sit with the user while they’re completing the test. Ask them to talk about what they’re doing. Make notes about how they try to locate information.

If you’re working with a digital agency, ask if they have a user experience specialist. This person can facilitate the testing. If you can, sit in on the testing as it will give you valuable insights into user behaviour.

It can be time consuming to bring in people from outside your organisation. However, if they are key users, it’s worth it.

Follow up


Collate your findings and analyse the results.

  • Look for patterns and common behaviours
  • Group the results into similar behaviours from each scenario
  • Make a note of any pain points
  • Suggest solutions
  • Make a note of what worked well
  • Create some action points and who is responsible for doing them
  • Set some deadlines to complete the follow up

Your analysis may take 2-6 hours, depending on the size of the testing and results.