Flash tests are the quickest test method and are meant to be done as rapid tests. The goals of flash tests are to get information from as many participants as you can within a set amount of time. A single flash test should be no more than 5 minutes long when giving the test and only have 3 to 5 questions that are geared toward getting feedback. Flash tests are not meant for all types of tasks. These are tasks that you are looking for a specific outcome, whether it is where a user looks for a piece of navigation, what they would expect a certain feature to do, or to clarify wording of a function/feature.

A common setting to running a flash test is in the lobby of a building (particularly outside of a library or other high-traffic area). This allows for drawing in more users to take the flash test and receive more feedback. In this setting, it is common to have at least 3 members who can help with the testing session. One member should be asking the user questions, one member will be taking notes, and then finally one member will be a wrangler who is responsible for drawing in users to participate in the test. The flash test could also be done with pre-scheduled times for users to stop by a particular location and participate in the test but it should always be fairly quick and focused on getting a good many users.

When doing a flash test, I prefer to aim for at least 10 users per test that is being performed. This will allow us to start seeing patterns within users and let us better understand the results in how users understand what we are testing. For example, if we are asking users to look for databases on a library website, there may be a large number who look under a navigation tab labeled “Resources” and a few that would “Ask a Librarian” to do that task. Knowing the numbers of how these users interact with a small piece of a product can help inform the design, information architecture, and training that may need to go into certain aspects of a product.


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