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I'm transitioning into a UX/UI career from graphic design. Right now I'm working on an app redesign for my portfolio, and I don't know if usability testing is something I can afford to do. Some of my challenges are:

  • I have a very limited budget and can't really afford to provide incentives for recruiting participants.
  • I only have about 2-3 friends and family nearby that fit the target user.
  • Given the nature of the project, I've had to design for multiple devices (PC/laptop, TV, mobile), so on a real project like this, I would anticipate having to test for each device type (about 15-20 participants in total), which would cost me a lot of time and money.
  • Testing a TV app would be really inconvenient to do in a guerilla testing context. Like, it would be hard to bring a tv to a coffee shop and not draw some stares.

I've already done a lot of user and market research for this project, but I'm just unsure if the time and money investment for just usability testing is worth it when my goal is to demonstrate that I have general UX skills to employers. I also lean more toward the UI/visual side of design, so that's another factor in making this decision.

Should I bite the bullet and do the testing now? Or, should I leave it open and do as much as I can with the research I have? Would it be a deal-breaker to employers if I didn't show any testing for this type of project?

  • You seem to be of the opinion that once you're working in the field Usability Testing will be much easier to do and you'll have better resources. Well I'm afraid I have news for you... – JonW Feb 12 at 12:21
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Some testing is better than no testing at all. You are trying to demonstrate your UX (design) skills, not your usability testing skills, so there is no need for full-scale large tests.

There's been a lot of discussion on whether 5 users is enough to get some valuable insights. For starters, read Jakob Nielsen and then google for the critical responses.

So in your case I'd start with 5 users (friends and family - include a few that don't fit your target user to complete the group) and make sure you use a qualitative approach. You're not looking for numbers, the goal should be to get an overall impression and to find the most obvious usability problems.

When talking to future employers, you should be able to explain why you chose this approach and show that you are aware of its limitations.

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You can mock up and test almost anything using Paper Prototypes in guerrilla testing (using drawings of your various instances, and pulling them away or adding them based on your users' choices.

Before you test, decide if you have a certain target, and hang out near where your target hangs out most.

Tell them you're doing a research project for a school program.

Most will want to help you for a few minutes. Targeting attorneys, they won't have tons of time, but if you're in a school project, and hang out in city or county court houses or bars they frequent after work hours, tell them it's for a school project, and most people will help at least for a few minutes.

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For a portfolio project you don't need in depth tests I guess. Guerilla can help to test your UI and placement of the elements, and you can just ask community / do online testing to get some impressions in design.

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For someone transitioning to UX career, it would be good idea to have some experience in UX testing, test planning and analysis. I would recommend using a qualitative analysis tool that guides you in actually analysing observations too, e.g. https://userbitapp.com/ .

The value in this is being able to show different types of skillsets in your portfolio, it does not all need to be finished visuals, it can be test plans, images of test setup or user testing session / analysis results too!

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