How to set up a user test

To set up a kick-ass user test it is advisable to prepare well. A test plan can provide a good basis for this.

At the end of this article you will know:

✓   What you should include in your test plan

Test plan

Good preparation is half the job. That’s why you should set up a decent plan for your user test. This is often written in a document; the test plan. A number of components that can be found in it are how you will carry out the test, what you will measure, scenarios and participants. We have listed the most important parts of a test plan.


Write down what application you’re going to test and specify what parts of it the test will cover. Possible scopes are; testing the navigation or testing the check-out.


In this section you write down your concerns, questions and goals for the test. These can vary considerably. From broad test goals such as: ‘Users can easily find their way through the checkout of my application’. To very specific goals such as ‘Can users find the contact information after the relocation of the button’.

Schedule & Location

In this section you note where and when the test(s) will take place. When the planning is complete, you can go into the schedule more specifically and write down how many sessions you will organize per day and what time the sessions will take place.


In this section you want to describe what happens in the sessions and how long the sessions last. During the planning of a test, keep the time between two sessions in mind to reset the testing environment, to write down notes and to deal with any delays.


Indicate what equipment you will use during the test such as; computers, laptops and smartphones. If it is relevant for the test you’ll also want to indicate what kind of operating system, screen size or browser you’re using. Also do not forget to indicate whether you intend record the test and whether other special equipment will be used to monitor the participants.


Indicate how many participants you are going to test with and what type of people these are. Also write down how and where you will recruit them. Trouble finding the right participants for your user tests? Let us help you find the right target audience for you.


Within a test you can work out several scenarios that are subdivided into test tasks. Indicate how many tasks there  are in the test and what the tasks are. With an average test of 60 minutes you have about 10 test tasks per scenario and with a mobile test about 8.

Subjective Metrics

Set up a set of questions you want to ask on the basis of the test tasks to collect qualitative data. So you can ask for the general user-friendliness, the satisfaction with the use of the application and how likely it is that they recommend the application.

Quantitative Metrics

Determine which quantitative data you want to collect and how you will measure it. Examples include: completion rate, error rates, test time.


Make a list of the employees who assist in facilitating the test and what their role is during the test. A number of roles during a test are guiding the test, analyzing the scoring of data, looking at the body language of the participant and recording the test results.

Writing your own test plan

Creating a solid test plan can be a big challenge. To help you get going as quick as possible, David Travis from UserFocus created the 1-page usability test plan. You could use it as a guideline for your own test plan. And if this seems like too much of a hassle for you we also provide Happy Tests where we test for you and take everything off your hands, including a kick-ass test plan.