According to an old Chinese proverb, the longest journey begins with the first step. In Usability Testing, that first step is known as the Kick-Off meeting. In some respects this is the most important part of the entire Usability Testing process, which will be explained over the following few paragraphs.
Kick-Off or Kick Out
Often product owners will decide they want to test their product, but are then unsure as to what exactly that means or entails. This is where the value of the the Kick-Off meeting comes to the fore. It allows the testers and the product owners to come together and decide what exactly a successful outcome of the test will be. It is important that the testers explain what Usability Testing is all about to the product owners and guide them through the process.
The Quest for Questions
At Graphic Mint a good Kick-Off meeting is one full of questions, which helps to remove assumptions. We can learn about the product and discuss potential pain-points which may or may not arise in the testing. From this, the scenarios we will be using to perform the test can be devised. This may seem like a strange process for the product owners, but often these questions play a fundamental part in the entire process. We are less familiar with the product than the product owners so this meeting is paramount for us to get up to speed.
The questions asked at the Kick-Off meeting can also lead to both sides agreeing on what the metrics for measurement during the Usability Test will be. A successful test is one where the agreed outcomes can be measured (through either success or failure); after all if there is nothing to quantify and benchmark the test against then the results are meaningless.
Minutes should be taken and actions agreed upon to avoid the situation of the Usability Testers looking for something completely different to the product owner. A good kick-off meeting will ensure everyone is on the same page.
The End in Sight
The Kick-Off meeting is not just about setting the stage for what is to come in the Usability Test. It can also be used to address other issues in relation to the test. Key milestones can be identified and defined at this stage, for example the timeline, and expectations can be agreed for every step in the process. This is important as key artefacts need to be delivered in a timely manner (such as the project plan and the final report) and some steps cannot start until the previous one is complete. The Kick-Off meeting helps to deal with all of the important planning and administration that goes into a test and ultimately clears the way for a fun and enjoyable Usability Test to take place.