The iOs app that we are building is going to be prototype tested soon in the usability lab and one of the flows we want to test is the forgot password flow to see if users can easily find and use the flow which in the companies case is a bit more complicated then for most other systems. The questions arises for me how to define and write the user task for this test, is it necessary to inform the user that he/she has forgotten the password and that he/she should use the app to retrieve the username/password or would it be more realistic to brief the user that he/she hasnt used the service for over a year and that probably the username/password is xx/yy, so to give fuzzy information and to have the user fail to login and figure out autonomously how to advance from there.

The dilemma is, if the user is informed explicitly about the lack of password knowledge he is too determined to find the help/retrieve button. On the other hand the user might be confused in the test situation if the provided password is not accepted.

What are your thoughts on this?

2 Answers 2


Give the participant a username and false password. She will enter them and when the login forms returns that the password is wrong, you should say to the user 'what would you do in this situation' and then see how she will handle the situation.

This is just one scenario, but you can introduce her to the problem from the start (that she should retrieve a forgotten pass). I don't think it will bias the study even if you do it with the second approach.

So do 1-2 pilot studies see how it goes, correct scenario and get straight to testing. Good luck.

  • 1
    Thanks, that sounds like a feasible approach. Briefing the interviewer is essential in this test.
    – Manuel
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 11:47

The first answer is a good one, however a slight variation is to create an unrelated task, where your first step is to log in (which will obviously fail).

This is what I call a misdirection test - the user thinks they are achieving some other goal but you are actually looking to learn something specific which is different to the goal you set the user.

This misdirection approach is intended to prevent predisposing the participant to a particular situation, which can bias their response to the situation.

So now you can then see how they genuinely react to a new situation with very little additional prompting from you.

  • So you mean by unrelated task in this case e.g. something that can only be achieved by being logged in? That is part of the test and hopefully will achieve the misdirection. Thanks for the suggestion.
    – Manuel
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 11:49
  • Correct - you don't want to prime their perception in advance, so you want to see a natural reaction to a situation. So they think they are booking a table (or whatever) but only you know they will fall at the first hurdle
    – SteveD
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 12:00

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