ARTICLE: Lauren DeMarks

Avoid user testing fatigue with this 2-part approach

Regular input from users is critical to the ongoing success of your EdTech product. After all, your product is designed to meet the needs of your users. However, relying too heavily on a single group of users for feedback increases the likelihood that they will fall victim to user testing fatigue.

Just as the name implies, user testing fatigue describes a condition that affects people asked to give feedback over and over. Symptoms include disengagement in the feedback process and a growing apathy to providing responses.

User testing fatigue is an easy trap to fall into. Since many EdTech products are relatively new introductions, the pool of active users who can provide feedback isn’t typically established. In these instances, product teams rely on a small pool of beta users. Or a product might be specialized enough that the number of people qualified to provide feedback is limited. 

But the truth remains. If you keep going back to the same people over and over, they will get tired. And you’ll see the impact in your user testing results. That’s why ensuring the quality of user feedback by reducing testing fatigue is paramount. 

Identify and Address User Testing Fatigue

One of the first places you’ll notice the impact of user testing fatigue is in survey responses. Users who previously responded to surveys may stop responding altogether. You may also notice a decline in the quality of responses, which is especially clear in answers to open-ended questions.

Once you’ve identified that users may be experiencing testing fatigue, it can be addressed in two ways — how you utilize your participant pool and how you structure feedback requests.

Leverage the right user group at the right time

Relying on a core group of users to provide feedback for your EdTech product brings many benefits. As you develop relationships with this group, they continue to be a source of invaluable insights. Through their evolving experience and expertise with your product, they help your team prioritize improvements to your product roadmap. 

It’s important, though, to focus user involvement where it will be most beneficial in order to avoid user testing fatigue. Reaching out to a broader audience is necessary to prevent internal mental models from clouding the experience. 

Use Your Core User Group Strategically

Look for ways to engage your core user group early in your project, during initial discovery work. At this stage, the group can establish table stakes — the minimum requirements to make your product the most useful. 



If your product is already in the market and you’re working on updates, your core users can identify existing pain points. This small pool of users can also help you understand and prioritize new features or updates.  

Then engage your core user group again before you release new features. But this time gather input to confirm that the solution you implemented solves the problem that they helped you identify.

Don’t Rely Too Heavily on Your Small Group of Users

Input from your core user group is invaluable, so be sure to ask for and incorporate it. Just be cautious of becoming dependent on feedback from only this group. Typically, these users are very knowledgeable about your product. You want that level of sophistication in the feedback. However, there is a risk that your core users will give you feedback the general population would not. This is due to their established experience with your product. 

In some instances, that additional experience can push your EdTech product toward more advanced features in future iterations. But it can also lead your product team down the path of solving edge cases — pain points specific to an individual user that other users are unlikely to encounter. 

Look for Ways to Expand Your Participant Testing Pool

The simplest way to prevent user testing fatigue in your core group is to find more participants. This keeps your core participant group from becoming disengaged and introduces more diversity into the feedback you gather.

Your EdTech product will always have new users. You want them to be able to perform necessary tasks as well as your core user group. Ask people who have not previously seen your product — or who have limited experience with it — for feedback. This validates that the tasks are actually easy to accomplish for all users. It also gives your core users a break.

Tap into Analogous Groups and Future Users

Usability is usability, whether it’s in the EdTech space or not. So if you need feedback to determine whether a task is easy or difficult, look beyond instructors and students. Recruiting from analogous pools of participants can be an effective way to supplement your usability testing. Find groups of people using technology to perform tasks that are similar to the ones in your product but in a different field. 

For example, if you want to test goal-tracking functionality, turn to groups that use fitness or health apps. While they may not understand the specific topic, they will understand what features make it easy to set and track goals and which features fall short. And their insight will guide your product team to make improvements that will benefit your users. 

Future users are also advantageous as a testing group. Recruit users that match the vision of where you want your product to go. Their feedback can influence your decisions and guide upcoming iterations of your product.

Vary your methodology for gathering feedback

Sometimes it’s not the frequency of involvement that is causing user testing fatigue. It’s the way you’re asking for input. To maintain a high quality of feedback, you should periodically change how you ask for it.

Since surveys are a likely culprit for contributing to user testing fatigue — but still a low-cost, low-effort way to collect valuable feedback — look for ways to add variety.

The most obvious solution is to reduce the number of questions in your survey. But if that’s not an option, consider the types of questions you ask. Include questions that require less effort on the part of your user but still provide your team with the information you need. For example, use a multiple choice question instead of an open-ended question or reduce scales from 10 points to five points to allow your users the ability to exert less energy when answering. 

If your schedule and budget allow, explore ways to gather user feedback outside of traditional surveys. Moderated or unmoderated user sessions keep users engaged and also give your team the opportunity to probe into specific responses. This added insight can further inform product updates.

Let Users Know Their Input Matters

People want to feel important. That includes the users in your participant pool. When they feel their voice matters, your users are less likely to disengage from your testing and feedback processes. 

Build a positive feedback loop into your testing process to inform your users about the opportunity to become involved in user testing and the subsequent impact of their contributions. Show them where — and how — their input has helped your team develop a better user experience for your EdTech product.

If you need to involve the same participant pool multiple times, be transparent about the level of involvement needed. Share openly about expectations and keep the lines of communication open. This way your users are more likely to stay motivated throughout the testing process and will continue to give thoughtful feedback when you ask again. And that will lead to a better product experience for your future users.

  • Photo of Lauren DeMarks
    Lauren DeMarks

    As a UX designer at Openfield, Lauren combines her love of helping and connecting with others with her passion for design. She holds a BFA from Miami University in Graphic Design, as well as minors in Art Entrepreneurship and Interactive Media Studies. Outside of the office, she is very serious about ultimate frisbee. Having played on both the men’s and women’s teams in college, she continues to help her alma mater introduce young women to the sport she loves so much. Lauren has a thirst for travel, having lived and studied abroad in Luxembourg and state-side in San Francisco, and is committed to supporting products and services that contribute directly to environmental and sustainability issues.

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