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Usability Testing FAQs

If you’ve been invited by SAGE to participate in usability testing, you might have some questions (such as ‘what’s that?’). We’ve created this page to answer some of the most common questions.

What is usability testing?

Usability testing is where we ask people to use a website or app and observe what they find easy, what they find more difficult, and how they feel about their experience.

We'll ask you to use a website or an app under realistic conditions. You'll be asked to complete some simple tasks (e.g. 'add an item to your shopping cart') and to try and think out loud as you go.

Seeing how you go about these tasks will allow us to evaluate whether or not the site or app is working as intended and come up with ways to make it better.

Why should I do usability testing?

There are several good reasons to participate in usability testing.

  • It's quick and easy. Most usability tests only take around 30 minutes and are based around a few simple tasks.
  • There's no pressure on you to do anything 'right' - everything you do gives us important information about how real users behave.
  • Helping us to test our interfaces helps us to improve the experience for all users in the future.
  • It's fun. You'll often get the chance to see ideas for things that we're working on before anyone else sees them.

What if I do something wrong?

The one thing to know about usability testing is that it's impossible for you to make a mistake - usability tests are one of the few tests you can’t fail! If you find a task difficult then that suggests that we need to make it easier for other users. So don't worry about making mistakes and just try to interact with the site or app however you would in your daily life.

Is the site or app I'm testing real?

Sometimes you'll be using a real, live website and sometimes you'll be using a prototype. If you’re using a prototype, it’s likely that some things will be unfinished and use placeholder content. The person taking you through the test will help you imagine the intent of the prototype if necessary.

What equipment do I need?

All you need to participate is a computer that’s capable of connecting to a video meeting. In other words, you’ll need a microphone (either built-in or external) and an internet connection that can support screen sharing (upload speed of at least 2MBps).

The test will be conducted over Microsoft Teams, which is similar to other video conferencing applications like Zoom and Skype. You don’t need to download or sign up to anything in advance, but if you haven’t used Teams before you may wish to familiarise yourself with the basic functionality. Here’s a short guide on how to connect to a Teams meeting.

Can I switch my webcam off?

Sure. We’ll ask you to share your screen but you don’t need to switch on your webcam if you don’t want to. 

Is there anything I need to do in advance?

It’s a good idea to make sure you’re at your computer a few minutes in advance of the scheduled start time with your preferred internet browser open, in case of any technical issues connecting to the meeting.

If you need us to make any accommodations for a disability or any other circumstance, let us know in advance so we can set up the test appropriately.

How do you handle my personal information?

We need to collect some personal information from you for the following specified purposes:

  • We need your name and email address in order to correspond with you and send you an invite to the test.
  • We may ask some general demographic questions before or during the test, for instance your occupation and your areas of study. This helps inform us how representative you are of our target users.

When we report the results of our research, we will anonymise any responses you give. We never sell or share your data with third parties, and we will not use your name or personal information other than for the above purposes without your additional consent.

We will retain your contact details and some demographic information so that we can invite you to participate in relevant research activities in future. You can ask us not to retain your data at any time, either during the test or by contacting mresearch.outreach@sagepub.com

At the start of the test, you’ll be asked if we can record the session (including your screen). This helps us go back and check anything we might have missed and means we don’t have to take as many notes. If you’d rather we don’t record the session, just let us know when we ask.

Further details about how we handle your information are available in our privacy policy

The product I tested seems useful. Can I have access to it?

If you've been selected for usability testing because you're a student, researcher, teacher or librarian, there's a good chance you already do. A good way to find out is to consult your library's A-Z of electronic resources and look for SAGE. If your institution is not already a subscriber, you can fill out our recommendation form and we’ll follow up with your institution on your behalf.

Who do I contact with more questions?

If you have any questions that aren’t covered on this page, contact our market research coordinator at mresearch.outreach@sagepub.com.