Task flows: A tester’s perspective

When creating a Compatibility Test on Fable, the type of feedback you get can often depend on the type of instructions you give in your task flow.  The following are some tips to help you get exactly the kind of feedback you’re looking for.

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Samuel Proulx, Community Manager at Fable

“One of the goals of accessibility testing is to make sure your website works equally well for every user. Instead of phrases like “press enter on the link”, consider “activate the link” instead.”

Avoid visual instructions and details. 

If you’re testing your website with blind, low vision, or colour blind users, it’s important to avoid giving exclusively visual cues or descriptors in your instructions.  For example, “click on the red paperclip to upload a file”. If you’re not sure how clickable images, or other graphical controls, on your website are labelled, this would be an important thing to check before you go through the user testing process.

Never assume how users will use their computers.

When given an instruction on how to interact with your website, testers will make choices about the best way to perform this action, based on their own abilities, the hardware and software they use, and their comfort level.  For example, a screen reader user may choose to tab to a button and press enter on it, where a user who finds using keyboard difficult may choose to move the mouse over to the button and click on it. Alternatively, a user with voice recognition software may verbally instruct the computer to press the button. Regardless of the method, these choices should ultimately lead to the same result.

One of the goals of accessibility testing is to make sure your website works equally well for every user. Instead of phrases like “press enter on the link”, consider “activate the link” instead. This leaves our testers feeling free to make the interaction choice that is best for them.   

When it comes to instructions – it’s all about balance.

When you give testers instructions that are extremely specific or directive, a few things can happen.  First, you will find that you quickly reach the maximum of 10 steps allotted per task flow. Second, instead of thinking about the design of your website and the overall experience, testers will likely be forced to concentrate more on following your instructions than anything else. 

There’s a happy medium here. Instructions should be specific enough that you know every tester will be completing the same task in the same way, but not so specific that testers have to follow your instructions to a degree that they aren’t able to concentrate on what the overall experience of using your website is like.  

It’s a delicate balance, we know.  But at Fable, we are happy to work with you to get the hang of writing instructions that will get you the testing you need, and the most valuable feedback possible. 

Help testers understand your users and their experience.

The “description” field is an excellent opportunity for you to give our testers some background on your website and the task they will be completing.  Who are your users? Why, and how, do they use your website? When our testers have this type of context, it can help them give you the best possible feedback on the experience. For example, knowing that a website is used by students rather than teachers will help testers consider things like the overall difficulty of the task, or the language that is used, more carefully.