UX Hack: You only need to do usability testing with 5 users

Be honest – the phrase ‘usability testing’ doesn’t necessarily sound cheap, does it?

When you hear it, you probably imagine a project land in which outrageous budgets abound, timelines are of no importance – hundreds of users sit in a lab, interacting with the 27th version of a prototype while a design team feverishly takes notes on the subtle and nuanced clicks, head tilts and eye movements of each.

But the reality is much simpler than that.

Because in actual fact, the research on UX research (yes it’s all very meta) has confirmed that you need to test with no more than 5 users to get a reliable and repeatable result.

That’s right. FIVE.

As NNM, the premier authority on UX says:

“After the fifth user, you are wasting your time by observing the same findings repeatedly but not learning much new.”

Why is 5 the magic number for usability testing?

There’s a fair bit of fancy math we could throw your way on this because it’s all about the statistical likelihood of a user encountering an error when testing.

The probability of a user coming across an error 31%.

Testing with just 5 users then, would highlight at least 85% of the problems in any given interface.

The fancy term for this is ‘binomial probability.

In essence, with a 31% binomial probability of one user finding an error, once you add more than 5 users to a test group, the ROI of doing so drastically reduces i.e. the more users you add, the less you’ll learn.

All this statistical explanation is to say – elaborate usability tests are a waste of resources, and you can achieve the best results with just 5 users.

Pro tip: Conduct multiple 5 user tests to get the best results

It was back in 2000 that Jakob Nielsen and Tom Landauer found that 5 is the magic number when it comes to user testing.

UX Hack: You only need to do usability testing with 5 users

Source: https://www.nngroup.com/

However, their research does go a little further.

While testing with 5 users will identify 75-99% of all usability problems, you still need at least 15 users to discover all the usability issues with a design.

But the expert advice from here isn’t to always test with 15 users, but instead to conduct multiple rounds of users testing with small groups of 3-5.

Your best bet? 3 design iterations, each tested with 5 different users.

Not only does this save and spread out your budget more efficiently, but it is guaranteed to more optimally improve your design in the long run!

CAN you really hack Usability testing?

At the end of the day, UX isn’t exactly ‘hackable’, but it definitely doesn’t have to be overblown, expensive and time-sucking.

Done right, UX testing is one of the most informative and useful pieces of a strong, strategic UX design project.

Just ask us – we’re pros at this!

How to write the perfect website brief

The dream: writing a website brief so good that you get the exact design you want. The reality: what the hell do I put in the damn brief?!

How would it feel to give a website designer a brief and get EXACTLY WHAT YOU WERE EXPECTING?

No wasted time, money or tears.

Just the exact design you were hoping for so you can get on with your project (and life).

The art of writing a website brief that lands

The website you get is only ever as good as the website brief you give.

Read that again. 

You will make or break your website project long before a single page is designed or developed. 

The reason? 

Your direction counts for so much more than you might realise.

A website designer is a professional who knows what works and what doesn’t but tailoring that know-how so it specifically suits your brand, your message and your product or services – that’s where they need help.

Think of yourself as the person leading an expedition to find buried treasure.

You know where the gold is, even if you don’t know exactly what it will look like. 

The Devil of a website brief is really in the detail

When it comes to website briefs, the more detail you give, the better the outcome will be for you.

This includes everything from:

  • The type of website – is it a brochure site? An eCommerce store? An interactive resource?
  • The purpose of the website – do you want to display information beautifully, generate leads, or sell on site?
  • Do you have a website platform preference? Custom Built (e.g. WordPress), website builder (e.g. Shopify, Squarespace) and enterprise platforms (e.g. Kentico, Drupal) all have different requirements and limitations to consider!
  • Do you have existing brand assets?
  • What integrations do you need the site to have – payments, shipping, invoicing, stock levels?
  • How many different kinds of pages do you need? e.g. homepage, services page, product page, contact, about page…
  • Will you be rewriting all your content? Or will it be the same as an old site you already have?
  • Will stock images need to be purchased? Or are custom images where you’re at?

Coming through with the content goods is the number one way you can help get your website project over the line and looking exactly how you pictured.

Example sites are the most important part of your brief

You might surprised to find that the most important part of your brief isn’t what you think it is.

The most important elements you can include are links to other sites you really like.

elements of a good website brief - FiresauceThat’s right, sample sites that show the style, spacing, fonts and layouts that you love are so incredibly helpful for a designer to ensure they come up with a design you really love. 

Website projects are complex things, and sometimes they’re hard to get right – but a rock solid brief is always the absolute best place to start to make sure you’re going in the right direction from the get-go. 

3 ways to make sure you don’t get shafted in your next website project

When it comes to a website project, one of the number one fears people have is wasting their hard-earned dollars on an enterprise that doesn’t create any value.

It’s totally understandable too. This website stuff is complex and convoluted – and the more specific and unique your requirements are, the bigger the investment and the greater the risk!

So how do you ward against that? Here are your top 3 tips to making sure you get the website you actually want!

1. Write an incredible project brief

Like so many things in life, a website project is as good as you make it – and you really can make or break it with your brief.

Think of it like this – if you tried to tell someone how to get to a park across town, your instructions wouldn’t be ‘head north-ish, but if you get to lake, you’ve gone the wrong way – oh and the playgrounds are fantastic, I can’t tell you what they look like, but they’re so good’.

You’d give details, lots of them – maybe even a map with street names and landmarks sketched on it. You’d talk about the colours and shapes of the playground and whether it has a slide or a swing or both.

When it comes to website briefs, the more detailed you can be the better.

  • How many pages?
  • What does each page need to do?
  • Do you have any reference sites you like?

Of course, we’ll caveat this with the fact that a good designer/developer can read between the lines and bring that creative je ne sais quoi to it – but to give you what you want they need to first KNOW what you want.

2. Commit to providing incredible content – written and visual

Coming through with the content goods is the number one way you can help get your website project over the line and looking exactly how you pictured.

In our experience, this is the most underrated aspect of a website project and the one that is most often overlooked!

A few things to consider:

  • Do you already have custom photographs?
  • If not, will you be getting a photoshoot done?
  • If not, are you happy using stock photographs?
  • If so, are you happy to pay for stock photographs? (hot tip: if you’re willing to drop som $$ on this, you’ll get MUCH better photos)
  • Have you got website content you’re already happy with?
  • If not, are you able to rewrite it yourself?
  • If not, are you willing to pay someone else (a professional copywriter) to rewrite it for you?
3. Find the right fit for you

You’ve got to find a company that meets you where you are.

Are you just starting out with your business venture? Then perhaps all you need is a simple Squarespace or Wix site and someone who can help you adjust a template (however minimally) to get you cranking along. It’s not something we recommend but if you’re short on cash and time, then this is a great option.

Perhaps you’ve got some capital or traction behind you and you want a custom look and feel, something that helps you to stand out from the crowd. If that’s the case then you probably need a small agency that operates with a lean team and an agile framework. In these instances, you’re likely dealing directly with the designers and developers working on your site. It’s personal and speedy and usually super competitively priced.

If you’re an established, larger business, however, you might get more bang for your buck working with a bigger agency that has more checkpoints, more detailed processes and employs the best of the best to get amazing outcomes. There’s usually a price tag that comes with this, but if you’re looking to really create something outstanding and unique, this can be a great way to go.

At the end of the day, a website project is always going to be as good as you’re willing to make it – so if you can get the brief, the content and the fit right, we can guarantee you’re setting yourself on a great path to getting an awesome website.