Happy Stories #2: Happy testing at Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS)

Welcome to Happy Stories! Every week we’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest developments in the area of UX research and testing of digital applications. Tests ensure happy users and that makes us happy. Hence the name; Happy Stories. In this article the UX Lead of the national Dutch railway company NS will tell us more about the testing culture at the NS and why testing is an integral part of their product development process.  

1 – What are your most common test goals?

Our main goal is to be sure our customers, the NS travelers, get the message we want to broadcast. We’re also gathering a lot of quantitative test data and because of that data we know how people behave in our Mobile application and at our website. But the how? doesn’t answer the why?. Why are people behaving in a certain way? Our goal is to eventually understand this by starting a test trajectory. Besides that, we want to test the complete customer journey and find out whether or not our customers understand our message throughout the customer journey.

2 – How often do you test within your development process?

We don’t have a fixed test schedule (yet) and it’s hard to say how often we run user tests. We always consider the following: is it big enough right now to test in the lab? We have the great ambition to test more often.

For example, we started a test project at Happy Labs for four sessions. We already finished two sessions and have two more to go. After this test project we will evaluate and look at the frequency of our user tests in the lab.

3 – What are the most surprising results that have emerged from tests with users?

So far, we didn’t have really surprising results, but we did find a very useful result when we were testing the process for ‘My Tickets page, a page where clients can find their tickets. The checkout process, which leads to this page, felt unnatural and by testing it we gave it high priority to make it more logical and streamlined.

4 – Where do you test, and why?

At Happy Labs of course ;-). But in all seriousness, we do some testing ourselves. You can think of internal reviews, guerrilla testing. Often we run tests at train stations. These tests don’t last longer than 15 minutes and are more guerilla style. While travelers are waiting for their train to arrive we let them test one thing and that’s it.

At Happy Labs we’re trying to zoom out and bundle tasks. Then we look at the entire customer journey and take our time to zoom in on specific parts of the journey. Because we don’t have enough space internally we were looking for an external testing facility. We have looked at alternatives but liked the facilities Happy Labs offered best.

5 – What is your favourite testing method?

That depends on which developing phase you’re in and the type of questions you have. Are you prototyping or is it about a live product? With a live product you can run a quantitative test, when you are prototyping you cannot. Also the size of the subject is a factor when we decide which testing method to use.  

6 – What is the best advice you can give when it comes to testing?

Like Nike says: ‘Just do it!’ It doesn’t matter if you’re going to test in a lab or guerilla style, just try it and don’t be afraid. Just keep in mind that you’re building something for your clients, so make sure it works for them. Also, it’s a great way to get to know your users.

 

Happy Testing

Do you want to improve your digital products, just like NS?  We’re happy to help in performing kick-ass user tests with a hassle-free experience! Click here for the possibilities.

Happy week!