The Importance of User Experience Tests

Welcome! This is my first post as I relaunch my website, I plan to blog regularly about voice acting, audiobooks, technical writing, and project management. I will include additional intermittent blog posts on other subjects.

Today’s post is about the importance of User Experience (UE) testing to just about every product you put your hands on. The goal of every company is to gain loyal customers by providing you what you want and need at a fair price, and then stand behind that product till you are satisfied. They want repeat customers. However, it never fails to amaze me how many boxes I open and within two minutes I’m asking myself, what do I do now? Am I dumb, or did they not test this scenario? Sadly, I think that UE testing was either poorly done, or not done at all.

Two examples come to mind. I open the box containing a glucometer to measure blood sugar levels. New to this experience, I eagerly awaited some hand holding. But at a key point, with the pricker device that you use to draw blood, the instructions failed to describe in enough detail how to load the needle, leaving me wondering what to do. I also asked, does this have a top or a bottom? Is it important which way this goes in? No help from the descriptions. Inserting the test strip into the measuring device, like an iPod, left me wondering, does it matter if my fingerprint get on this little channel into which my blood gets drawn? Again there was a lack of information in the guide they provided. Was I the only person who ever asked these questions, I thought?

Example two was a new floor lamp. I looked at the Ikea-like instructions and said, ok, this is not hard. But when I got to the critical part of screwing the head with the light into the metal pole, I wondered, is this head supposed to be able to swivel, or do I need to twist this around till tight? If I twist it too much, is the wire inside going to get damaged? Again I thought, well shoot, did other people try putting this together to come up with these questions? Why is this information not covered somewhere in the included docs?

This list goes on and on, in every aspect of every product you consume every day. How about all those apps you download onto your phones? When was the last time the flimsy documentation answered all your questions? Or via any web site selling products? My recommendation to everyone is to always try to get as many people as possible to test your stuff for quality before you release it to the public, because you know darn well that your bugs WILL be found, and your consumers are not very forgiving of errors that bother them and impact their ability to get their jobs done.

UE is important! Spend the time and your customers and Sales/Marketing staff will all be happier.