What to report when conducting a usability testing with a small sample (5 participants)?



  • We are going to conduct a usability testing with a small sample (5 participants) as part of an iterative design process meaning we understand that the whole idea of 5 participants is to gather feedback, improve the design and perform more usability testings in future iterations.

    But my question is: what should be reported to the development team when you have a small sample of 5 participants?

    More in detail what I mean with my question:

    • Should we just report usability problems observed (qualitative data such us: "3 participants clicked in the wrong button when trying to sign in") or can we report task completion, time on task, SUS, etc. (for example: "task completion was 60% for task 1"?
    • Or are these metrics (task completion, time on task, etc) only for quantitative usability testing where you have a bigger sample of 30+ participants?

    Thank you in advance,



  • Five participants can uncover usability issues, but you can't report confidently with a sample size that small, so stay away from quantifying it. You can give the development team your suggestions for improvement (no need for 30 people to discover that the same button is broken), but if you'll be measuring improvement on the same feature at a later date, you really need a statistically significant sample for that (30 at the very least, 40 is better).

    A participant pool size of 5-12 is good for qualitative feedback. You might use 5 participants to find out why your analytics data are reporting that something is off, and provide verbatims from the users that support what you discover.




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