21 experts on how to overcome the biggest user testing challenges

We’re proud to announce the launch of our new weekly blog-post series: ‘How to Overcome the Biggest User Testing Challenges’!

Over the coming weeks, 21 highly-respected researchers and designers from across the industry will offer their thoughts and advice on how YOU can defeat the biggest challenges to running user research and testing in your organization.

toddler staring at the first step of a steep flight of stairs

In the past few years, demand for user research has grown substantially. While most companies understand the importance of conducting research, many are still figuring out its place in the product development process and developing an effective and efficient UX research practice.

Demand for research can fall anywhere from overwhelming to non-existent. You might be managing demands beyond your resources, trying to get stakeholders to recognize the value of UX, or somewhere in between.

Regardless of the challenges you’re facing, you know UX research is vital to helping companies build products their users love. Our new series, launching this week, has been created to help you maximize your research efforts, and prove value to the rest of your company.

To get an idea of what hurdles the community is facing, Validately reached out to UX researchers and asked them to share the biggest difficulties they face.

Reviewing the challenges we received, three main topics became apparent:

  • Making Research Work as a Company
  • Working with Limited Resources
  • Best Practices and Effective Execution

We then interviewed 21 UX research experts to find out how they deal with these challenges and to get their advice on tactics that worked for them. In this multi-part series, we’ve compiled all that advice and added summaries of action items that you can implement.

Please note: While some of the experts in the series use Validately, their contribution is purely to help the UX research community, and is not an endorsement of Validately’s User Testing platform

Here’s a little tease of the first 8 parts of the series:

How to get stakeholder buy-in for user testing

Stakeholder buy-in is one of the most commonly talked about challenges faced by UX researchers. It can also lead to other issues such as research and testing being deprioritized or lacking budget. When product teams demand faster design times, user testing is often skipped, or minimized.

By getting your stakeholders on board however, you can highlight the importance of UX research and increase their understanding of the benefits it brings to product development. Then, if you’re facing challenges, your stakeholders will prioritize research as a vital part of the product process.

Our experts will give their own advice on how to gain the trust, empathy and loyalty of executives when developing a UX research practice. 

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How to standardize user testing in your organization

Standardization helps increase efficiency and keeps everyone aware of what’s involved in a research project. However, no two projects are ever quite the same. So how easy is it to standardize the research process? When uncoordinated departments or outside resources get involved it can be even trickier getting everyone to stay within a set of boundaries or to follow a strict process.

Our experts will give pointers on how to get everyone onboard with a standardized research process.

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How to get user testing into early product development

When a new product, feature or improvement is being considered, getting research involved as early as possible can be vital to the success of a project. It allows the research to be done before investing heavily into building new products or features. 

Avoid costly mistakes early by investing in research, rather than catching them down the line after design and development resources have been invested. If you don’t get involved in a project early on, it can more often than not feel like it’s too late to provide value from your research.

Our experts offer advice on how to ensure you’re getting involved in product development as early as possible.

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How to communicate user testing results rapidly and effectively

Once a research project has kicked off, there will be people in your organization who are keen on seeing results as soon as possible. This should be done cautiously, like a balancing act. 

Sharing some interesting results part-way through with regular updates will keep the momentum flowing, but saving the bulk of your research findings until further down the line is wise. You don’t want your stakeholders to get ahead of themselves and draw conclusions too soon!

Our experts will offer their best practice guidance on how to deploy your valuable UX insights wisely and effectively.

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How to deal with limited budgets for user testing recruitment and tools

Although we strive to work in an environment where user testing is a part of every stage of the product development lifecycle, and your executives have completely bought in to everything you do… we have to be realistic. Not everyone has the luxury of generous budgets, resources and sign-off.

In this year’s State of UX in the Enterprise report, securing resources and budget was the number two challenge for UX teams in the biggest organisations across the globe. So if budgets are tight and resources are limited for the majority of us, how can we ensure that products are still being built with the user in mind?

Our experts will offer recommendations on getting research done with the tightest of demands.

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How to manage user testing priorities when you have limited resources

When everyone in your organization has bought into the idea of running user testing throughout the design process, there’s one side effect that you may not have expected to be an issue – the sheer volume of requests from multiple teams asking for your UX expertise.

Now it’s obviously a nice problem to have, and democratizing UX through training and education can help, but how else can you prioritise UX testing requests in the most stakeholder-pleasing way that’s ultimately also best for the user?

Sr. UX Researcher Ted Boren from Infrastructure and Brandi Arnold, Senior UX Research Consultant at HBO, offer their recommendations on how to manage user testing priorities.

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How to optimize user testing under time constraints

When you’re down to the wire, time-wise, how can you ensure that user testing is still being planned and executed as thoroughly and as user-focused as possible?

Even when you have a bounty of resources, budgets and stakeholder buy-in to enjoy, things don’t always go according to plan – perhaps the product release deadline has been accelerated, or perhaps the sourcing participants became to complex and time-consuming?

In this article, four senior UX researchers offer their recommendations on how to optimize user testing when the clock is ticking.

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How to ask the ‘right’ questions when user testing

If you’re running moderated user testing (either remote or in-lab) you need to learn how to ask the right questions, in the right way. What does this mean? Why is this important?

The ‘right’ questions are ones that do not influence or lead or coax a test participant. Instead they reveal truthful opinions and behaviours without your own bias.mThis is important because if your tests are loaded with bias, the insights won’t lead to a true user-focused product.

Our experts offer their recommendations on how to get the best results from test participants.

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  • James Bennett says:

    Can’t wait for the rest of the series! (the first article is really good). How many parts will there be in total?

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