Elita Freiberga January 6

How to get more honest feedback from user testers?

frank feedback in user testing
Get honest feedback in ux/ui research

“I solemnly and sincerely and truly declare and affirm that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” 

Are test users totally honest or just being kind while giving feedback? How to get more honest feedback in user testing? What could be the steps to take for my user research to be successful? You are not the only one who tries to figure out how to squeeze out all juice from the users when they test your product.

And yes, there are ways how you can see what happens in the user’s head… 

We are working on an emotional analysis tool that will show you exactly that. Soon you’ll be able to “read feelings” and know what users experience when they use your product. But until then you’ll have to stick to the well-known practices. 

As well as the affirmation or a lie detector does the job it might not be the best idea if you’re running research. We assure you that there are other ways to get a test user to be more open and truthful. 

It might be a surprise for you how simple they are!

#1 Lie to get more honest answers.

You’ve probably seen the research where people are gathered in one room and told that they will have to test a different type of coffee, but actually, researchers seek the answer to whether paintings that are hanging in the room affect their mood.

This might be the oldest trick in user researchers’ handbook. The reason is simple- if test users will know the purpose they will probably concentrate more on the task that they know you are analyzing. To get test users to tell you everything you should lie about the purpose.

It is for a good cause and you shall be forgiven.

#2 Hide any connection with the UX/UI project.

Don’t tell them that you’re linked with the project. People-pleasers and non-confronters will want to escape the conflict and, therefore, remain silent even though they will struggle to do the task you set up. Fortunately, if they do struggle and remind silent you’ll be able to notice that quickly in your metrics.

So, what to do? It is simple- don’t tell them that you have worked your ass off for the project. It is better to not tell them that you’re associated with the company at all. If they ask- keep that a secret and tell them that you’re hired just to conduct interviews. 

#3 Get frank feedback by being straightforward.

At the very beginning explain to the test user that their honest feedback is what you expect. Explain that you trust test users’ opinion. Tell them that you expect that they tell you everything and anything they notice and that there are no right or wrong answers. This simple encouragement will take you less than a minute but can increase the truthfulness of the user study insignificantly. 

#4 Hire the right audience and set realistic scenarios.

We can’t stress enough about this topic. Choosing the right audience is crucial if you wish to have legit test results. We have covered it also in TOP 5 mistakes in unmoderated user testing projects. Not only the target audience is important, but also the tasks you set for a test user. Scenarios or tasks have to be realistic. Test users have to be able to relate to the situation. 

Meet John. He is about to run his first test to gather feedback on software that offers audiobooks in the Polish language.

John has done his research and knows that the target audience that should be recruited for a user test is 44, male, speaking Polish and driving a car. John is not experienced with user testing, but he knows that he should set goals and create tasks in the first place. He creates a user test in less than 30 minutes by using pre-designed testing templates.

Imagine how awkward it would be if John would invite someone who doesn’t read Polish and then ask them to rate if the copy is O.K.? Or he would ask for test users to search for a book as a gift for their kid, but they don’t have one. Think through- who are/ will be using the product and set realistic tasks. 

So, Let's finalize all the tips above: 

For now, we cannot be 100% sure if a test user is saying the whole truth, but there are ways on how to make them speak more honestly about your project.

Also, it wouldn’t be wise to ask the feedback from friends and family as they might get afraid to hurt your feelings. Instead, use unbiased people for your testing project. Remember- we got more than 20.000 dependable test users in Eastern Europe that you can and should use. They are trained by us and know that you need to hear everything to get accurate insights about your product.

Always get opinions from your target audience and try not to tell them the goal of the study or your relation to it.

Be successful!