look different than one that’s simply a series of prompts. If the test includes pre-
and post-test questions for participants to answer on their own, perhaps these
can appear on separate pages so they can be easily removed and distributed.
When putting your test plan together, you may run into a couple different
obstacles. Realizing these shortcomings during the test itself is way too late, so
you’ll want to diagnose and mitigate these risks as early as possible.
A script can be incomplete for any number of reasons: The read-aloud part does
not adequately describe the scenario, the expected behaviors aren’t explicit, there
are crucial scenarios missing. The single best remedy for these problems is to
conduct a dry run, which takes the usability test out of the abstract and into the
real. Anything missing from the plan appears quite starkly when in the thick of
a test. If you don’t have time to test the test, as it were, you can also cross refer-
ence the script with the user proﬁles to identify potential holes in the scenarios.
You can do a cheap version of the dry run by reading the scenarios aloud to col-
leagues and seeing if they understand them. A set of expected behaviors is simply
a set of instructions for doing a particular activity on the web site. Hand some-
one the list of expected behaviors for a scenario and see if they can follow it to
the goal. These are low-impact ways to diagnose potential holes in the script.
It’s one thing to review a test plan in a meeting and quite another to bring it
into a testing situation. The content of the document may work, but the format-
ting may not be appropriate for use during an actual test. Again, the best way to
mitigate this risk is to do a dry run of the test. By putting everyone (the facilita-
tors and note-takers) and everything (the web site or prototype and the test plan)
through its paces, you can establish whether the document format is suitable.
In a sense, the usability test itself is a presentation of the test plan. The test plan
is the agenda for the facilitator’s meeting with the participant. But this is not the
kind of presentation we’re talking about here. Instead, this section will provide