Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.

The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Usability test guide [Template]

This document provides example questions grouped along the key moments usually found in a usability test: introductions, warm up, task completion, follow up, and wrap up. If your participant’s time is scarce, consider sharing a few questions ahead of time. See also this checklist for running an interview. GSA staff, please see this 18F only, Google Doc Template.


Hello, my name’s [moderator], and I’m going to walk you through today’s session. As I mentioned over email, my office is currently working with [partner] to [broad purpose; for example, inform a redesign of]. Joining us on the call are [observers, and their affiliation].

I’d like to begin by thanking you for making time to speak with us. Your feedback is valuable, and will help us determine if our website functions as intended. Just to confirm, we’d like keep this session to [duration; for example, 30 minutes]. Does that still work for you?

Great. If you need a break or to stop at any time, please let me know.

During this session, I’ll start by asking you a few questions around your work. Later on, I’ll ask you to share your screen and accomplish a few tasks using the website we’re evaluating.

Please be aware that there are no wrong answers. In fact, this is probably the one place today where you don’t have to worry about making mistakes! As you go about using the website, I’ll ask you to think aloud as much as possible: to describe what you’re looking at and what you’re trying to do. This will be a big help.

Also, please don’t worry that you’re going to hurt our feelings. We’re doing this to improve the site, so we need to hear your honest reactions.

If you have any questions as we go along, just ask. I may not be able to answer them right away, since we’re interested in how people do when they don’t have someone sitting next to them to help. But if you still have any questions when we’re done I’ll try to answer them then.

With your permission, I’d like to record this call. The recording will only be used to help us figure out how to improve the site, and it won’t be seen by anyone except those with a need-to-know. Recording this call also helps me, because I don’t have to take as many notes! Is that okay?

Finally, I want to confirm that you’ve received a participant agreement — is that correct? Have you had a chance to review it? Did you have any questions? If you haven’t already, please sign it and send it back at your earliest convenience.

Great. Do you have any questions for me at this time?


Before we take a look at the site, I’d like to hear a little bit about you — what’s your occupation? What do you do all day?

Does your work require a specific kind of training or experience?

What are your goals in doing your work? What motivates you?

Setup screen sharing

OK, great. We’re done with the questions, and we can start looking at things. The first thing I’d like you to do is share your screen. You can do that by clicking “Present now” in the bottom-right corner of our video chat. Before you share, make sure to close anything you don’t want recorded.

Great. Next I’d like you to visit the URL I sent you earlier today. To start, please look at this page and tell me what you make of it: What are your first impressions? What is this site for? You can scroll if you want to, but don’t click on anything just yet.

Task completion (2-3 tasks)

Thanks. Now I’m going to ask you to respond to the following few scenarios. I’m going to read each scenario out loud, and I’ll also share the text of the scenario via chat.

Example: Imagine you’re working on a collaborative training application that will help employees at your agency identify and plan to attend conferences together. Someone on your team worries that because your application collects and maintains personally identifiable information you might need to complete a privacy impact assessment. Using this website, show me how you would identify whether or not your system will require completing a privacy impact assessment.

Follow up

Great, we’re finished with the bulk of the test. You mentioned [something they said out loud] earlier and I didn’t want to jump in at that time. Can you say more about that?

What are your thoughts about these concepts, generally?


Thank you so much for your time. Before we finish, what did we forget to ask about?

Would you be open to speaking with us again in the future?

Who else should we talk to?


18F User Experience Guide

An official website of the GSA’s Technology Transformation Services

Looking for U.S. government information and services?