The importance of ʻwhyʼ in user testing

You, as a designer, are continuously looking for missing pieces and areas of improvement in your prototypes and products. However, it is difficult to step away from your work and look through the eyes of your user. So you are left going back to the core - the user - for feedback and a new perspective. 

As previously mentioned, questions are one of the most powerful tools in user testing. Asking more and answering less provides a deeper look into hidden needs and new ways of thinking. This is key to creating better user-centered products.

There is one particular question which can be used infinitely and is guaranteed to generate significant insight every time - “why”.

Why do you conduct user tests?

To get insight from your users.

Why do you want to get insight from your users?

To discover hidden needs.

Why are usersʼ hidden needs important?

To explore possible design opportunities.

There is no need to think of different “why” questions every time. Just go with the flow. By simply rephrasing the answer and using why to make it a question, you can build upon the feedback. Not only will you be able to dig deeper, but you will make better connections between the users' hidden needs, the context, and your product.

That is the importance of “why,” you can use as many iterations as you feel you need. However, there is a rule of thumb of five iterations called “The 5 Whys” - a technique invented by the founder of Toyota, Sakichi Toyoda, to get to the root of problems in the manufacturing process. This method has then been since adapted by designers everywhere and is also a part of the IDEO Method Cards.

Next time you conduct a user test, try the power of “why” yourself and let us know how it goes!