I get asked all the time, “how many questions is a good number to ask in a user test?”
The answer is actually time based, not quantity based.
The 5 minute rule:
Test respondents start to lose focus after 5 minutes¹. If you are running the usability test in person, you can prompt the test respondent with a new task to keep their focus. But if the test is run remotely, then the 5 minute rule is important.
Why is this important?
How to get more bang for the buck:
The 5 minute clock starts once the test starts, NOT once the questions start. So if interacting with a prototype/site takes 3 minutes, then you only have 2 minutes for follow-up questions. The good news is, you can control the quantity of questions that fit into time that window with simple tactics. For example:
Questioning Best Practices:
- Make your questions short
- Limit the response options to only the critical choices
- Limit the text of the response options
- If doing remote user testing, test one specific use case at a time. Do not try to jam 3-5 use cases into a single test unless you are doing the test in person.
The longer a test lasts, the less focus a test respondent has, the less accurate the qualitative responses are. The best remote user tests are under 5 minutes, and have short, specific follow-up questions. Tweet this
¹There are several articles that explain this point. Here is one from Constant Contact: http://support2.constantcontact.com/articles/FAQ/1966
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