At a Glance
Learn about test objectives—how to create good ones, and how to implement them in your test plan.
What’s an objective?
"Goals," "research questions," "study objectives." There are lots of terms in UX research, but for our purposes, we’ll use the term “objective” to describe any idea or question that we want to understand at a deeper level by collecting feedback.
Objectives should be the driving force behind every task you assign and every question that you ask. These objectives should be focused on particular features or processes with your product.
What distinguishes a “good” objective from a “bad” one?
Good study objectives are specific. They name a particular feature or process, and often mention different elements or aspects within those features or processes.
Clients often want to associate study objectives with KPIs (e.g., conversion). Good objectives are SMART—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Specific.
If you have a specific objective in mind, you’ll have a much better sense of what kinds of tasks and questions to include in your test, and what kind of information to send back to your team.
How to craft a detailed objective
Talk to your team
You can get detailed objectives by collaborating with the product or service's stakeholders. Start by having them discuss their business goals and priorities. Then have them determine determining what features or processes they want to have test contributors review based on these business objectives.
Once you’ve figured out the broad topics that the test will cover, start to drill down, reviewing any available analytics data to pinpoint areas of concern. You can also suggest a demonstration or walk-through of the feature or process in question; more detailed concerns may come to light as everyone goes through the experience together.
Prioritize your objectives
You may also encounter the opposite problem: stakeholders give you an abundance of objectives, and you need to figure out what to tackle first.
If this is the case, ask your stakeholders to prioritize their needs.
What to do once you’ve got objectives
The UserTesting Research Team has a number of methods for turning research questions into a test plan that yields solid answers, but they boil down to this: turn each objective into 2–4 tasks and/or questions.
This handy diagram visualizes this process:
By breaking things down this way, you ensure that the test plan stays focused as you begin the more detailed task of writing clear instructions and questions for your contributors.
Please note that the diagram doesn't prescribe any order as to how tasks and questions should be posed to users. Also, it’s possible for a task and/or question to tie back to multiple objectives. However, if many of your tasks are multipurpose, perform a pilot of the test to make sure that users are giving you feedback that touches on both of your objectives.
If you have any questions about your research objectives, contact your Customer Success Manager or check out UserTesting's Professional Services. They’ll be happy to help you collect actionable findings.
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