Selling UX in Games – Get everyone involved

This post forms part 2 of the series of selling UX to games companies, focusing on how you, as a proponent of user testing can overcome the major obstacles stopping game companies from investing in this emerging field. This week I’m focusing on visibility and reveal how getting people involved is key to selling UX testing. Specifically, I cover how to get people involved with usability and user experience testing, and the many advantages this will bring to both them and you.

Getting the whole team involved should be a priority even with the smallest scale tests. Not only is it a vital opportunity to sell the UX process, but it’ll give an undeniably clear example of the benefits that UX testing can bring, and help secure funding to ensure the next round of usability and user experience testing will not be on such a small scale.

Large-Hadron-Collider

Phase 2 of Testing

How to Do it:

So how can we get the whole team involved when user testing is taking place? This can be divided by time frame into 3 key areas.

Before a user testing session:

  • Inform everyone that the tests will be happening – send a group email, including details on what will be happening, and when, to all interested parties. This could be sent a week in advance, and on the day of the tests, which will increase awareness of user testing and allow you to….
  • Invite people to spectate – Let people know that they can watch the user testing, and that their input would be valued. Perhaps doughnuts will prove a big enough incentive to get people to give up some of their time to spectate.
  • Ask priorities and ‘goals’ for investigation – Encourage people to spectate and be invested in the process by asking what they’re interested in finding out, and incorporating this into the user tests. This will be followed up by a debrief, described later.

Getting the preparation before a user test correct will help increase awareness of what you do, and how you can help people, break down misconceptions about user testing, and get the team invested in the process. If a team feel like their priorities matter to you, and that they can help shapre the process to ensure it will help them, they’ll become proponents of user experience and usability testing.

During a session

  • Set up a remote viewing session – This should ideally be in a shared conference room, which allows people to spectate the tests in progress. This can be done using cheap/free equipment such as webcams, team viewer, and IM clients. Encourage attendance by advertising free food, and letting people know their priorities will be incorporated.
  • Make space in the test for questions from the team – At the end of the session, check with the team if there is anything they want to be asked, for example did they want to know more about a subject’s thoughts when displaying behaviour the team found interesting. Note that it’s important that these questions go through you, as this’ll prevent potentially leading questions getting through the net, and increase the validity of the participant’s responses.

After a session

  • Run a group debrief after each session – After the user testing session, meet with all the spectators, and give them freedom to discuss what they saw, and their conclusions from it. This allows the team to share their findings, and will encourage them to get involved again, especially since you will…
  • Incorporate their findings into your final report – and give credit!
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Advantages

So why go to all the effort of getting people involved with user testing?

The first advantage is that it will give credibility to your findings – not only will the team have helped shaped the conclusions, but they will have seen firsthand the evidence of that behaviour. It’s pretty hard to deny that, for example, the player doesn’t notice when they pick up a power up, having seen them miss it all day.

A secondary advantage through involving them with the process is that they’re likely to be more invested and enthused about the process – the sort of buzz that can help you gain an investment of more time or money in user testing.

The most useful advantage of getting the wider team involved is that they’ll add their own expertise and critical eye, highlighting areas of importance to them, and helping make observations in areas that you may miss. This can only help your final report, and gives a much wider legitimacy to the user testing.

Making the whole team aware, and involved in the user testing process therefore provides advantages to everyone – not only yourself, but to the whole team. It’ll help promote the process, and sell further user testing, and therefore is a key aspect of selling UX testing to games companies.

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