How to Get Your Whole Team Involved in User Testing

Posted by TJ on 31 October 2023 🎃

User testing can seem like a pretty exclusive affair to those that aren’t directly involved, right? Just the participant and maybe one or two team members facilitating and observing, while the rest of the company looks-on longingly at the chosen few who get to interact with an actual customer.

But imagine what this could look like if you could broaden the whole picture and involve more of your team. Boom! A user test turns into a proper team activity, allowing you to tap into a much wider array of feedback, and bringing more of your team much closer to the customer than ever before.

The advantages of this approach to user testing can’t be understated. It's a fantastic way to help your team understand the true value of real-life user testing, and an opportunity for them to gain an empathetic understanding of how customers actually interact with your product - something they might have been taking for granted. This can be a real eye-opener for a team and, from what we've seen, everyone who participates gets something valuable out of it, and has a pretty good time doing it.

Let’s take a quick look at what it takes to run a successful and accessible user test. It's not as difficult as it sounds, and while the technical part of user testing is quite straightforward, you'll have to remember a couple of small yet crucial details to ensure everything runs smoothly and ethically. 

Although we discuss the ins and outs of user testing a website, web app, iOS app, or prototype, you can easily adapt the process for whatever product or service your business produces. And as a little bonus, we’ll include some sample templates of the various forms you might need when setting up a professional user test.

Let’s dive in.

The people you’ll need

Firstly, participating in user testing doesn’t need to be the sole responsibility of those in the product team. You’ll get better quality feedback by seeking out diverse observations from people all over your organization, and it’s a great opportunity to build empathy for your users and customers across your team. You’ll also find that your team members will generally love to be involved in the process.

But this doesn't necessarily mean you need to spend the earth on expensive training courses, equipment,  or on highly-priced consultants to teach you how to do user tests ‘right’. Doing a little user testing and making incremental improvements will be massively better than doing no user testing, and you can always improve as you go. We’ve found through our own experience that you do not need to spend a lot of money to achieve top results.

Let’s identify the key roles that you should have involved in running user tests, and then we’ll discuss how they all work together:

  • Your User Test Participant. This is the person that will be testing your product. They could be a current or prospective/ideal customer or user, someone with specific domain knowledge, a friend or family member, or anyone in between. There really are no rules as to who would make a great test participant, and it’s going to vary widely by what you’re trying to learn anyway, so cast the net wide and just remember the context of the test and the background of the participant when you’re interpreting results. 💡 Download a free template you can use when reaching out to recruit new test participants.
  • The Test Facilitator. This is the person that runs the test and interacts directly with the test participant.
  • The Hall Monitor. The team member that runs the observation session (we’ll get to this soon).
  • 3-6 Observers. These are interested people plucked from around your organization that are willing to observe the test and comment on what they see. Choose a diverse cross-section of employees to make sure you get feedback from a number of perspectives and teams, and make sure you include people that might not normally get a chance to interact directly with users or customers!

Setting your environment up

The ‘entry-level’ version of a user test normally involves one person running a test or watching another person do ‘something’ that passes for a test, with the two of them either crowded around one computer or perhaps doing it remotely over Zoom, Teams, etc.

We’ve found that by going to a little more trouble to set your environment up you can get vastly better results, without spending heavily to recreate the sorts of setups that professional user testing agencies might use.

Essentially, what we’re aiming for here is an environment where you can create a Zoom call from the device being used by the test participant under the guidance of a facilitator to a computer in a separate area that can be seen by your observers.

A mockup showing two rooms arranged for a user testing session that involves a larger team.

There’s a misconception that this ‘separate area’ needs to be a soundproofed, completely separate office partitioned from the test area by a one-way mirror or something. This is not the case! Ideally you will have your observers away from your user test participant (we don’t want people getting nervous!) but if you were really squeezed for space you could observe from a remote part of your large, quiet office, or send the observing team offsite for a coffee! Just do your best to set this up while keeping the underlying principles in mind.

By remotely observing the screen and sound of the test computer this way, you can easily create a private environment in which your test participant feels comfortable providing honest and frank feedback, while still having the session observed by the multiple members of your observing team.

Here’s what you’ll need to create a comfortable user testing setup:

  • Two quiet spaces (ideally rooms) with reliable internet connections:
    • In one room, place the device that's being tested - it could be a laptop or a mobile device, whatever it makes most sense to run your application on. This is the room your user (test participant) and the facilitator will be in.
    • In the other room, set up a laptop for your observers, and maybe hook it up to a larger screen (if you can) so it's easier to see what's happening during the screen share from the user's room. Consider having a sizable wall space where you can stick post-it notes during the debrief. These little notes can help capture and sort out all your thoughts and findings after the test is complete.
  • Water: Don't forget to keep a glass of water ready for your test participant. They'll be doing a lot of talking, after all!
  • Compensation: If you're planning on compensating the participant for their time, make sure you have the voucher, gift card, or gift handy.
  • Printed paperwork: Some simple templates protect the privacy of both you and your user test participant, and help your observers understand their responsibilities:
  • Pen & paper. Lots of pens and paper for your observers to jot down notes.

Computer equipment

In addition to the bits we’ve just talked about, you’ll also need a couple of computers or mobile devices; one in the room with the facilitator for the user test participant to use, and one that the observers can watch the session on. Here are some quick tips:

  • The laptop or computer for the user test itself. This is the machine your test participant will be using and it's pretty important that they're comfortable using it. If they're a Mac user, you should provide a Mac for the test. Same for Windows. This is something you should figure out beforehand. Also make sure it’s powerful enough to run your software properly; you don't want a slow, laggy, or unfamiliar computer to be a source of frustration for your test participant.
  • Another laptop or computer for your team of observers. They'll be using this to keep an eye on what's happening during the test. Again, make sure it’s powerful enough to do the job and that you have a stable internet connection to both devices - you don’t want the screen-sharing session lagging out. The observers won’t be using this computer for anything other than watching the session, so it doesn’t matter what it ‘is’.
  • A big screen. This one's a potential game-changer. Trust us, trying to squint at a small laptop screen that your whole team is huddled around isn't a great idea. Get a larger external screen. A standard 24-inch monitor should work fine for 3 to 4 observers, but if you're expecting a crowd of 5 or more you might want to go bigger.


Okay, let's talk about software.

The main software you’ll need on both computers is remote meeting or video conferencing software. It doesn’t matter what this is as long as you can stream the desktop and audio from one computer to the other. We’ve had a pretty good experience with Zoom ( so that’s what these instructions will cover.

Zoom needs to be installed (and updated!) on both the tester's and the observers’ devices before the test starts, and we highly recommend a paid Zoom account (we’re not affiliated) for the computer that the tester will be interacting on. Nothing is worse than faffing around to reconnect a meeting after 20 minutes, and a paid account gives you the option to record the test. We recommend you do this as it's super handy to be able to refer back to the video of the test later on.

As for the observers' computer, they can stick with a free Zoom account.

While there are other software options you could use, we use Zoom because we've found it to be the most reliable in terms of streaming quality. If you decide to go with another platform, just make sure it allows you to share the screen of the device you're testing on, and that you’re not relying on the user test participant being familiar with it!

And here's a pro tip for larger observer groups of, say, 6 observers or more: use multiple computers! Since this is a Zoom call, nothing's technically stopping the test facilitator from 'calling' multiple observer setups. Just be prepared to use headphones if you're all in the same room to avoid creating an echo chamber.

Technical setup

So, we’ve got ourselves a couple of rooms with a computer in each, and we’re preparing to set up a meeting call from the test participant’s computer to the observers’ computer/s. The process of putting a call in is pretty straightforward, but there are a few steps you need to take in a specific order to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Firstly, start by setting everything up before your test participant arrives.

1. Prepare the test device (the computer in the room with the facilitator).

Voilà! Your test device is ready to go.

2. Prepare the observers’ device/s.

  • Open Zoom and sign in (remember, a free account works fine).
  • Switch off your camera and mute your microphone.

Your observers are now also good to go.

3. Start the video call.

  • Initiate a video call (meeting) from the user test participant’s computer to the observers’ computer, and make sure it's working properly and that the volume levels are okay.
  • Once again, make sure the observers’ camera and mic are off before the test begins.
  • It's crucial to have this call live before the test participant enters the room. This ensures a seamless experience and avoids wasting time dealing to technical glitches that can crop up with video calls.

4. Get the show on the road!

When the test facilitator has briefed the user testing participant and is ready to start the test, all they need to do is:

  • Unmute their mic (we suggest keeping it muted during introductions and only turning it on for the test).
  • Make sure the screen has been shared properly.
  • Hit the screen record button. This is optional, but recommended as it's handy for reviewing the session later if needed.

And that's all there is to it! You're now ready to conduct your user test.

Running the user test

If you’ve made it this far through the process then you have a good overview of how to set up 2 computers in 2 separate spaces in order to carry out a professional, good-quality-but-pragmatic user test.

But what does the actual user test look like? Let's quickly walk through a typical run so you can get a feel for the process to follow.

Remember, by this stage you have all the technical bits set up and ready to go. The video call is running between the computers with the screen shared but the mic muted on the user test participant’s computer, and both the camera off and mic muted on the observers’ computer. 

In the room with the user test participant:

  • Bring in the participant and help them get comfy. Maybe offer them a glass of water.
  • Give them a brief rundown on what user testing is, and reassure them that it's about evaluating the product, not their abilities as a user or a tester. Also, let them know how long the session is expected to last. Have a look at our free user test intro script template for an example.
  • Walk them through, and ask them to sign, the recording consent form and NDA.
  • Thank them for participating and hand over their voucher, gift, or whatever you're offering in exchange for their time – it's best to get this out of the way early to avoid forgetting later.
  • Go over any preliminary questions you or they might have.
  • You’re now ready to proceed with the test proper. Unmute the microphone on Zoom and double-check that it’s enabled.
  • Optionally start recording the conversation.
  • And then, kick off your test!

In the room with the observers:

  • The hall monitor should bring in your observers and make sure everyone has a clear view of the screen. Be conscious of not distracting the user test participant if they are able to see/hear what’s going on. Remember, the Zoom call should already be live, but with microphone muted & video off from this end.
  • Hand out the observer instructions for them to read, and briefly walk them through it. This should give a clear idea of the task ahead.
  • Wait for the test facilitator to start the test.
  • Once the test begins, the ‘hall monitor’ should ensure everyone stays quiet and attentive. Any chatter might cause them to miss crucial insights from the test participant.
  • When the test facilitator wraps things up in the other room (usually in around 45-60 minutes), it's time for an observer debrief. This should be limited to no more than 30 minutes. We'll go over that bit next.

The observer debrief

After the user test has concluded in the other room, the fun part begins – sharing observations! 

It’s important to go through this process immediately after the end of the user test so that all the thoughts and observations are still fresh in the minds of your observers. Don’t worry though, it’s not a long or laborious part of the process, and can be quite eye-opening and fun!

A mockup of a wall showing post-it notes arranged as part of a card-grouping exercise.

To start, ask your observers to take 5 minutes to review their notes and write down the top 5 issues each observer thought the user test participant encountered. Rate these from 1 to 5 with 1 being the biggest observed issue, and 5 the smallest (we know this is completely subjective but that’s okay). Write each issue on a post-it note, along with its rating. If someone has more than 5 issues, that’s fine, but 5 is a good number to aim for to keep this process focused and running on time.

Go around the group, one by one, asking each person to share 1 (and only 1) observation. When someone shares an issue, stick their post-it note on the wall and ask the group ‘Does anyone else have this issue?’ If they do, grab their post-it note and stick it up on the wall next the first.

Repeat this process until everyone's observations are up on the wall. You should end up with a vibrant 'wall of observations', showing the issues in various groups based on the number of people who observed the same thing being a problem.

If the number of cards in each group give you an idea of the frequency of an issue, the ratings on each card in a group will give you some idea of the severity; for example, if a bunch of cards in a group are all labeled 1 or 2, that might indicate a bigger issue for a user than if they were all labeled 4 or 5. This is only a rough guideline though; be sure to talk to your observers about what they think, and why they gave the issues the ratings they did! Seek a broad range of opinions.

By this stage you've pretty much completed the group exercise and also finished a single user test. Congratulations!

Next steps might be to distill all those observations, synthesize and document them with the results of other tests, and compile a report for your bosses that summarizes the biggest issues or opportunities along with recommendations and decisions made. And don’t forget to ask the participants of this test how you can improve the testing process in the future.

To be honest, this is why we made Voyce; to make it easier to store, understand, and share the results of these sorts of user tests. But we'll get into the nitty-gritty of that in a separate article. 

Free templates!

Grab this handy pack of free templates and start your journey towards more satisfying and inclusive user testing sessions that a wider variety of your team can participate in. Drop us an email address we'll send you PDF versions of the following templates:

  • Email template for recruiting user test participants
  • Recording consent form
  • User test participant Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
  • User test introductory script
  • Instructions for user test observers
Grab your free templates!
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