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When you’re looking for quick design and usability feedback, RITE testing might be what you need.

RITE testing UX

There’s nothing more exciting than observing users interact with your design and provide feedback for improvement. RITE testing in my opinion, is one of the most thrilling usability methods to enhance and fix your design issues. It allows you to update your designs based on user feedback in between rounds of testing. RITE stands for Rapid Iterative Testing and Evaluation.

The RITE method is a form of a usability test, but less formal. RITE testing was first used to test games and emerged as a usability style testing method by researcher Michael Medlock at Microsoft Games. The need for this style of testing was for “shipping an improved user interface as rapidly and cheaply as possible.” Traditional usability testing methods can be formal and sometimes take too long, whereas RITE testing is quick, simple, and intended to identify and fix usability issues as quickly as possible.

Medlock ordered the issues into 4 categories of prioritization.  In my experience, I’ve only had category 1 type feedback, which I’ll detail further.

The RITE research method within the design process

There’s a broad spectrum of research methodologies which are best for different phases of the design process. For example, when you are early in the discovery process and looking for concept or product validation, you might conduct open ended interviews to understand how users think about a product area. When you are later in your design process, usability tests are best for testing designs that are refined and polished to ensure you get the kind of detailed feedback you are looking for. 

Small participant sizes

The basic premise behind usability testing is that you only need a few users to capture most usability issues. Otherwise, you end up seeing the same issues over and over again with multiple users. The same is true for RITE testing UX, you can have up to 5 users in each round, and those should be different users. 

RITE test elements

RITE testing has similar elements and general process as usability testing, with the exception of the between rounds update to the design.

Here’s the general process:

  1. Create a test plan with the key tasks you’d like for users to go through
  2. Create an interactive prototype
  3. Identify some users to go through the task using the interactive prototype
  4. Observe users and if they have any issues with the design–> If you observe consistent patterns of problems: 
  5. Iterate on the design to fix the problems
  6. Retest on different users
  7. Repeat with another round of testing, if needed

UX prototyping for RITE tests

The design that users interact with should be in the form of an interactive prototype, or an engineering prototype. The interaction should be as close to realistic as possible, and the copy and text should be as close to final as possible. 

The kind of feedback that you’re looking for:

  1. Is the text and copy clear?
  2. Do users understand what they are supposed to do?
  3. Is the interface clear and easy to understand?
  4. Are multiple users getting stuck in the same area?

RITE test UX Design example

RITE testing ux design prototype example

Let’s walk through a real life design example. A few years ago, I did a RITE test for a mobile app that is similar to this design. The goal of that test was to understand if the new IA for the mobile app was easy to understand. The key tasks for this design was:


  1. Find the music you recently listened to and play it.
  2. Search for a new artist.
  3. Find your favorite songs.

RITE testing schedule

Two tests were scheduled, for Monday and Wednesday-usually my preference is to keep the sessions a few days apart just in case there’s more feedback than expected. If there is more feedback, it gives me the chance to update it over the course of the next day.

It also gives me some buffer if there are Category 2 major updates “Issues that appear to have an obvious cause and an obvious solution that cannot be implemented quickly or within the timeframe of the current test (difficult new features, current features that require substantial design & code changes, etc.).” 

RITE test UX Design feedback for Round 1 prototype

After testing the original design, there were two main pieces of feedback from the participants:

  1. The tab bar menu home icon was confusing.
  2. The ‘Recently Played’ tiles were the top activity people wanted to do when returning to the app, but it was hidden and needed to be scrolled to.

All of these issues are easily addressable, which falls into Category 1 of Medlock’s process for RITE testing. Category 1 are “Issues that appear to have an obvious cause and an obvious solution that can be implemented quickly (e.g., text changes, re-labeling buttons, rewording dialog boxes, etc.).” 

These issues were easily addressable, so I updated the prototype and ran the test again with different participants.

RITE testing ux design feedback

RITE test UX iteration for Round 2

RITE testing ux design prototype iteration

The next version of the design addressed the feedback from the first round of the RITE test, and the design was updated.

In the next version of the design, the navigation icon was replaced, and the rows were updated to have ‘recently watched’ at the top rather than in the middle as we did in the first round. 

This design addressed the issues that were found in the initial feedback, so no other rounds were needed. But, if there was more feedback, another round of testing could be conducted. 

RITE Testing Categories

“This design addressed the issues that were found in the initial feedback, so no other rounds were needed. But, if there was more feedback, another round of testing could be conducted. 

“Medlock has two more categories, category 3: “Issues that appear to have no obvious cause and therefore no obvious solution”, and category 4: Issues that may be due to other factors (e.g. test script, interaction with participant.”

If your design suffers from Category 2 and 3 then you might have to rethink some elements of the design, or take more time to create a different idea, and you may want to employ more discovery research to decide what those changes should be.

In conclusion

RITE testing is a great low-effort, high impact option for testing your design quickly and making simple adjustments. A consideration is that your UX prototype should be interactive enough for people to click through and give clear feedback. Try it for your next design test.

If you’d like to learn UX prototyping, and how to make interactive prototypes, check out my UX course on prototyping.

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