Want to get a feel for your app’s usability? Test the boundaries of UX with a hallway test.
After all the time and money you’ve spent developing an app, you’ve finally got a working prototype: now it’s time to test its usability. There are plenty of methods you could potentially use to gauge the quality of the user experience (UX) that your app provides, but some are more efficient than others. Performing a simple hallway test app allows you to learn everything you need to know about how customers use the mobile app you’ve developed.
A hallway test works by randomly selecting a small number of people, all of whom are unfamiliar with your app, and having them perform a set of tasks within the app. Joel Spolsky, CEO of Stack Exchange, describes the process of conducting a hallway test in a blog post on his website: “A hallway usability test is where you grab the next person that passes by in the hallway and force them to try to use the code you just wrote. If you do this to five people, you will learn 95% of what there is to learn about usability problems in your code.”
Hallway testing is popular among mobile app developers due to its simplicity, low cost, and high output. App developers can gain valuable insight from users on how long it takes to perform tasks within the app, what sort of problems users may experience trying to complete a given action, and constructive feedback about design flaws and other errors.
Although the method is fairly easy to understand, there are some steps that app developers should take to ensure the results of their hallway tests are accurate.
Jakob Nielsen of Nielsen Norman Group does an excellent job of explaining some of the structuring involved in creating a proper hallway test. Most notably, Nielsen advises that hallway tests are conducted using no more than five respondents, and that developers run as many small tests as possible. Simply running one test won’t provide accurate information, Nielsen notes, and having a larger body of data from multiple tests can give developers more definitive answers to their questions about information architecture, task flow, and user needs.
USAJOBS Team also offers a few tips on how to create the perfect hallway test. Among the other recommendations, the report urges testers to use random selection in their testing, set guidelines for what to measure, and to establish a strong framework for grading and interpreting the data collected from users.
Creating the Test
Running a successful hallway tests starts with finding the right respondents — and doing that is all about location. The idea here is to choose a setting with plenty of foot traffic, but at a time where you won’t be inconveniencing respondents. People heading home from work aren’t likely to have those extra minutes you’re asking them to spare for your test.
Next, you should identify and select respondents who are within your target audience. If your app is geared towards young women ages 18-35, you probably shouldn’t ask older men or young children to participate in your hallway test.
After identifying potential respondents, approach them amicably and offer a simple reward for performing the test. Rewards don’t have to be extravagant — consider offering snacks or candy for participating in the UX test.
Finally, remember to thoroughly report user responses and examine your testing process to work out any kinks that may skew results. After you’ve completed your first hallway test, perform another one, then another one. The more hallway tests you conduct, the more usable data you can collect.
Of course, you can’t test your mobile app until you’ve done everything you can to develop it! If you’d like to create your own app but aren’t sure how, consider using DIY services like AppMakr, which let you use a simple drag-and-drop interface bring your vision to life. Start developing for free today!
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