The Art of Speed Testing


Feedback is key in creating valuable experiences at every stage of the design process, and recollecting large amounts of it during short periods of time can be a real eye opener. So we were enthusiastic to take part in a rapid user testing experiment held at the Wimdu offices last month.

The „testing night“ consisted of a room with around ten to fifteen companies seated in numbered chairs, much like a traditional speed dating format. The user tests were organized in twelve minute rounds on average and once the timer announced each round was up, the testers proceeded to the next table. The mood was lively, people started lining up and the timer was set. Our testers approached us round after round and quickly began to complete their assigned tasks. By the time the rounds concluded, we had successfully tried out our project on eight enthusiastic potential users. We got amazing feedback.

The real challenge however, came days before the actual event. Early on in the planning phase we realized that the tools we currently used to collect the feedback during our user tests, were not designed for the twelve minutes of total time we were allowed per user in this specific testing session format.

Redesigning wider nets

 Feedback Nets

Feedback Nets

So, how do we adapt our tools to fit each session´s specific needs? We started by analyzing what we already had. Before, one of our main tools from the tester´s side were printouts of each screen in the the task. The users were invited to discuss and point out paint points, challenges, etc. 

This was certainly useful to harvest qualitative, detailed feedback. But with around twelve minutes per user, switching between sheets and rapidly jotting everything down was a bit messy and the notes fragmented. We needed a more holistic view of each task. Enter our tool redesign, the quick feedback net. By thinking not just in terms of screens but visualising them as a series of steps within tasks, it became easier to track where the paint points affected several users at once.

We complemented this tool with several other useful ones:

  • Scenario Cards

  • Observation

  • Questionnaires

Consider this if you are testing within a limited time frame:

  • Narrow it down to one main task (or sequence within a task) to be tested. 

  • Condense the information. Use icons and storytelling to breeze through the general overview.

  • Cut, paste and re-cut your existing tools until they are aligned to your testing objectives.

  • Optimize time: Plan beforehand exactly how many minutes each task should take by first realizing quick practice rounds with your colleagues.

In conclusion, there are some definite pros for choosing to go with this kind of format of rapid user testing. Not only is it fast, compact and cost friendly, but it also allows you to recognize emerging patterns in user behavior during very short periods of time. Watching users fail or succeed at completing tasks and navigating through your service can provide rich insights, especially for tiny details that were sitting right in front of you the whole time!