Usability testing is a common UX research method where a researcher (called a moderator or facilitator) asks test users to perform tasks while the moderator observes and gathers feedback. Knowing how to write a usability test script is different from planning the test itself.

The script serves as the moderator’s guide while facilitating the participants. It will help each test session run as consistently as possible. Usability testing scripts typically follow a certain sequence:

Pre-Test Questions

Before your usability test begins, you can ask a series of questions that collect more contextual background information on your test users, and the expectations they have for the product experience. This can be a more informal part of the usability testing session, since it allows you to collect important information while building rapport with the tester and setting them at ease.

Sample questions might include:

  • What is your name?
  • How old are you?
  • What is your current occupation?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your level of confidence in using a mobile device vs. a desktop for [identify activity]?
  • Have you ever used our product before?

Establish Trust and Set Expectations

During a usability test, users can feel as if they are being put on the spot, worry about making the right decision, etc. To help avoid this discomfort, include a few lines to establish expectations and promote a feeling of ease by emphasizing the fact that they are testing the product, and their most candid feedback is appreciated.

A sample part of this script:

Your time is valuable, and we appreciate your time spent in this test. As you go through this series of questions and tasks, know that it is impossible for you to make a mistake or wrong decision. We are testing the product and looking for ways to improve the experience.

Encourage Verbal Processing

Some of your usability testers may be natural external processors, who talk their way through each task. However, it can be extremely helpful to openly encourage verbal processing during the usability test for more qualitative data.

Write Open-Ended Task Questions

As the main part of your usability test, it’s vital that the test script can clearly explain what the user’s tasks and objectives will be. You can also provide them with a scenario that’ll make the task more relatable for them. However, it is equally important to make sure that each test question is written in an open-ended manner, to avoid misdirecting or influencing the tester.

While the actual questions that you include in this part of the usability testing script will be entirely dependent on what you’re testing, here are a few that you might include:

  • What do you think about this design?
  • I noticed that you [action]. Why?
  • What is blocking you from completing X?
  • How do you feel about this experience?

Post-Test Questions

After the test, the moderator can ask the user for feedback on the tasks and the prototype.

For example:

  • How difficult were the tasks?
  • Was the experience with the product mostly positive or negative?
  • Would you recommend this product to your friends or family? Why or why not?

Questions like these will help you learn more about how to improve the design or change your future usability testing methods. Once you learn how to write usability test cases, you can help ensure that your test is carried out successfully.