How to go about usability testing?

I have reached the final stage of my project during my internship at DrDoctor – the stage where I ask our users if what I have produced for them is at all useful.

My aim was to build a Customer Support Platform that empowers our super-users to use DrDoctor technology to its fullest potential. By leading this project, I have been exposed to every phase of the product development cycle: research, producing prototypes, minimally viable products and finally user testing.

Believe it or not, this last stage of the project was by far the most challenging for me (which also means it is the part that has allowed me to learn the most!). I was under the impression that user testing could be as simple as showing the MVP to our super-users and getting their thoughts on whether it is the best way to support them with our software or not… it really is not that simple.

Here is my biggest take home message after the two weeks I spent stalled trying to prepare my usability interviews:

Don’t ask customers what they want. They don’t know what they want.”

It also became clear that user testing was much more scientific that I had previously imagined. After a few hours of researching online and reading ‘The Lean Start-Up’ by Eric Reis, I realised that creating MVP of my Customer Support Tool was an experiment, and therefore I should test it under set conditions. For a Molecular Biologist by training, it took me longer than I expected to get my head around this to produce clear and concise hypotheses.

Writing a hypothesis to test human behaviour and tendencies without influencing them is difficult. But now that I am halfway through DrDoctor super-users usability interviews, I can be confident when saying that I am getting the most out of the 45 minutes they are taking out of their busy schedule to answer my questions. I will be able extract meaningful insights to improve not only the Support Tool, but also to improve the software user interface and super-user training that already make make DrDoctor unique and a step ahead of all other digital communication solutions in the field.