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User-Experience Lab FAQs

Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions we hear.  If you have a question that is not answered below, contact us at and we are happy to answer all your questions!

What is user-experience (UX) testing?

UX testing assesses how easy user interfaces are to use.   In a UX test the researcher observes users as they perform a variety of tasks.  The testing provides insight into problems the users encounter by collecting data on time on task, errors they make, how satisfied they are with the experience, and where they are confused or frustrated.

What is eye-tracking?

Eye-tracking is the process of measuring either where the user is looking (point of gaze) or the movement of the eye.  It provides insights into how users interact with a product.  Eye-tracking can detect usability problems, explain usability problems, measure attraction, and measure performance.

Does eye-tracking work on anyone?

We have not had many issues with our current eye-tracking equipment, but eye-tracking software can be sensitive and calibration can be difficult or impossible for unforeseen circumstances.  Participants should meet the criteria in a medical screening before using the eye-tracking.  A history of glaucoma, use of bifocals, etc. may not make the participant eligible for eye-tracking.  We recommend you recruit 2-3 more participants than you need in case of difficulties.

How many participants do you need for a UX study?

Many studies only need 8-10 participants.  UX studies typically require anywhere from 8-20 users.  Eye-tracking studies typically require 30-40 participants.  Too many participants can hurt your return on investment.  It costs more but there are diminishing returns.

How do I get users for my study?

This can be one of the hardest parts of conducting a UX test.  Luckily the University of Tennessee offers a great pool of potential participants.  We can work with you to develop strategies for recruiting users.  Some Communications classes require students to participant in research projects, and they are one of UT’s greatest resources.  E-mails and paper flyers are also great ways to recruit.

Do I need an IRB?

Researchers must have IRB (Institutional Review Board) approval for studies that will be reported or published and they must provide a copy of the signed IRB for the lab to keep on file.  In some cases you may not need to obtain an IRB.  For information on the IRB process at the University of Tennessee please visit: .

Is testing in the lab the only option?

No, we also offer a portable UX lab.  Our portable lab consists of two laptops, MORAE software, and a portable eye-tracker.  Testing with our portable UX lab can be conducted nearly anywhere.  The lab offers the same features and benefits as the UT lab, but we come to you.

What is a heuristic evaluation?

Heuristic evaluation involves having a small group of people evaluate the interface and compare it against recognized usability principles (e.g., consistency, visibility, error prevention, and help features).  The evaluation identifies potential usability issues.

Who do I contact about setting up a UX study?

Our lab manager can be contacted at or at 865-974-9865.  Please allow for two weeks between time of request and time of testing.

What is the cost of the lab’s services?

We provide lab tours and demonstrations free to all interested parties.  The lab is a core facility at the University of Tennessee.  See our services page for a list of services and pricing.  Researchers in the College of Communication and Information are paid for by the Research & Innovation Center .

I’m a visitor to the University of Tennessee, where can I park?

We will work with your before the day of testing to ensure seamless parking for you and participants. A map of the University of Tennessee’s campus can be found at: