Notes on UXpod’s The Five-Second Test podcast with Paul Doncaster

From Gerry Gaffney’s 9/29/14’s UXpod podcast, available on iTunes.

The 10 Rules from Paul’s book ( link at bottom of post)

  1. Only use the 5-Second Test on appropriate topics–not overly complicated questions, task flows or screens which require much reading
  2. Focus on a specific design item or aspect and test only that item. The Memory Dump Test, Target Identification Test or Attitudinal Feedback Test are three viable issues—but only use one technique per test session
  3. Don’t give a user any reason to say I don’t know or I don’t remember–make sure your instructions, images and questions are laser-focused
  4. Devote time to writing good instructions–they can be very general (Memory Dump) or specific (a specific target)
  5. Optimize the image used in the test to not require scrolling
  6. There is no magic number of questions–but the fewer, the better-informed response
  7. Order the questions well–don’t bias users the overly directed questions, don’t mix target and attitudinal question etc
  8. Write questions very carefully–understand what you’re asking, be thoughtful in how you ask it, be concise but also specific enough so people can’t answer I don’t know. Also make sure your instructions don’t give away what you want people to notice, thereby invalidating the question
  9. If you have designed a page with a major prominent element—don’t test about what the most prominent element was. You’re not getting any useful info when the design is obvious about the main element.
  10. Open-ended questions don’t work well as final questions in a sequence of other questions, as the memory dump factor is too strong. Better to test open-ended questions in highly-focused tests that only ask for improvements
  11. And the throwaway last points–don’t ask more than 5 questions per test, and don’t use this format for A/B testing

Podcaster Gerry Gaffney runs UX Consultancy Information & Design in Melbourne and set up the User Experience podcast in 2006. Paul Doncaster is the UX Manager of Thomson CompuMark at Tomson Reuters and is the author of The Five-Second Rules: Guidelines for User Experience Design’s Simplest Testing Technique, available at Amazon.


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