Corridor testing: getting fast feedback on layouts

  • Tutorial
I once wrote about the common mistake of designers when we completely forget about users, believing that we know how they think and how they prefer.
It is clear that user testing greatly helps in the design of interfaces and entire products, but in order to test something, you need a finished product or at least a prototype.
Creating a prototype, although greatly reduces the cost of testing, but also requires considerable effort and time. And before creating a prototype, there are often options for an interface concept that would be nice to test, too, without spending more than half an hour. In this case, the so-called “corridor testing” can help the designer. At the hub, not much attention was paid to this topic, so I decided to share several tricks from my experience.

What is the meaning of corridor testing

You draw the layout on paper or in your favorite program, leave your office, approach your colleagues in the office and show them the layout in printed form, or on a laptop / tablet. If you can test the entire scenario using your layouts, great, link them to some and get an interactive prototype.
Corridor testing is called because it allows you to quickly receive feedback on your layout anywhere, literally in the corridor from a person passing by.

How to conduct corridor testing

Creating a layout, you obviously understood in which scenario it is used, therefore, demonstrating a prototype to a person, you can ask at least three types of questions:
  1. Where would you click to do / find something
  2. What do you think will happen when you click on this link or button
  3. How do you understand this phrase / name?

Where would you click to do / find something

This question is asked when testing user expectations from an interface. Your users probably have tasks that must be completed with your product. Thanks to this question, you can quickly figure out if the user will find the desired function or information.

What do you think will happen when you click on this link?

The second question is testing expectations. With it, you can test not only the information architecture - is the information organized and the links named, but also the expectations of the system’s behavior. For example, a user can answer you that when you clicked on the “buy” button, you were expecting to proceed to checkout, and you designed a pop-up window with a notification that the product is in the basket.

How do you understand this phrase / title

The third question helps to test not only the interactive interface, i.e. buttons and links. It helps to understand how clear the information on the layout is. The question can be reformulated: “What do you think they want to show to the user with this phrase / graph / picture”?
The answer may surprise you greatly and you will realize that the idea that was originally laid down is understood by people in a completely different way.

5 second test

A small addition is the five-second layout test. You show the person the layout for 5 seconds, then remove it and ask what he saw or remembered in the layout.
Perhaps this is not the best technique when testing interfaces, but it works well when testing promotional materials, landing pages and banners. For example, you can test the effectiveness of banner spots on the portal or the content of the banners themselves by asking after 5 seconds: “What was the banner on the layout?”

By the way, all of the above questions can be asked during the classical usability testing.

Laptop or paper

You can approach people in the hallway with a laptop or tablet, or you can with a mock-up printed on a paper. On the one hand, the layout is more familiar for the user to watch on the screen, on the other hand, on the paper layout, the test person will be able to draw something or portray his vision. My choice is both. If possible, come with a tablet, but keep a printed version ready and, of course, do not forget to bring a pencil with you.

Pros and cons of corridor testing

Corridor testing helps you get fast feedback on your sketches and move on. On the other hand, such a feedback may not be very representative, because:
  • you asked not real users, but those who caught my eye
  • people were not in the conditions where they usually use a computer
  • people did not have enough time to plunge into the problem.

But corridor testing is not designed to test large scenarios, nor does it cancel the conduct of full usability testing.

With all the disadvantages, I would still recommend using this technique. It will not help you make the product perfect, but it will make you think about possible design problems when the cost of fixing errors is still very low.

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