3 Scenarios to Answer: “After Usability Testing, Now What?”

Posted on November 7, 2013 by Lisa

A potential client recently asked “How can you help us after the testing?” To answer, I came up with some scenarios that reflect the role a UX consulting agency like ours can play.  Whether you are a client or a consulting agency, these might help you too.

First off, I should clarify that we don’t just report on performance data (time, successes, search versus navigation ratios etc.) and identify specific usability issues that occurred and their apparent triggers. We also recommend design solutions, based on our wide testing experience across many systems.

Scenario 1: Design Review 

What often happens is that we play a simple review role.  As the technical teams work through possible implementations, we join in at occasional review meetings to ensure that the implementations DO actually address the issues (e.g. that the baby doesn’t get thrown out with the bathwater). What we bring to the meetings is an understanding of the trade-offs, e.g. solution X is just too expensive/time-staking, but solution Y modified in this way would still meet the need. This participation also ensures that the design teams understand the parameters for trade-offs and design decisions.

 Scenario 2: Design Validation 

The next level up is that a technical solution is proposed, or trade-offs are imposed, that only sort-of match our recommendations (here the baby looks to us that it IS in the bathwater…). To help the client feel more confident before proceeding with development expenses, we might propose to run some form of quick online quantitative study.  In these automated studies, users spend a max of 5 minutes performing tasks on images of prototypes, or tree hierarchies, without any facilitator involved – kind of like doing a survey.

For example, if a category landing page and menus aren’t working, and we want to ensure that the proposed new menu hierarchy (e.g. the information architecture) meets user needs, we could quite quickly mount an online Treejack study in multiple languages, with an intercept invitation to participate.   We have various research techniques that we use at this stage, all of which would be costed out and agreed on in advance, and which are often less expensive than running full usability sessions.

Scenario 3: User-Centred Design Teams – the Quick Phone Call

Some clients simply do this implementation stage themselves, and then call us back in when the solution is implemented fully. That’s a riskier approach with a less experienced team, but definitely possible with some of our long-term clients who have developed a user-centred culture. They tend to have development teams that participate directly in the usability testing, such that recommendations and solutions are discussed and sometimes implemented DURING the test series.

Then we go away for many months, other than an occasional ten minute (free) phone call from the client with a question or to get quick feedback on an idea. After they phase the solutions into their development releases and have the solution running on a development server, we start the testing process again.

Continuous Improvement – Test Again 

After the design solutions are implemented, we test again, benchmarking performance against the previous results. Hopefully, we see that the critical issues have been resolved, and that no new issues have arisen in the process. Often, this stage of testing will also address new functionality that have been added in the interim, since most sites are continuously evolving to meet new user needs.


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