What you’ll find in this article:
What is the Single Ease Question (SEQ)?
The single ease question (or SEQ) is a 7-point rating scale used to assess how difficult or easy users find a specific task on your website or app. SEQ is an important part of usability testing. Rather than measuring general usability of an interface or prototype, SEQ measures perceived difficulty of completing a specific task as perceived by the user.
What can you find out with the Single Ease Question?
At its core, the Single Ease Question helps us learn more about user perception regarding the difficulty of a specific task. While it’s not always easy to assign an objective measure to describe how much a user struggled (or didn’t struggle) with a task, SEQ can be used to quantify perceived difficulty.
Asking questions at the task level can also help us identify what tasks act as roadblocks for users. When there is data around the difficulty of other tasks, SEQ results are a comparative measure that make those particularly difficult roadblocks easily identifiable. Jeff Sauro explains this idea in an article about comparing factors like SEQ to other data points.
Overall, SEQ is a way to quantify the often subjective concept of difficulty. When used comparatively, SEQ helps us find specific area flows or parts of the interface where we can reduce friction for users.
When should you use it?
The SEQ is used right after a user performs a single, specific task. Note that SEQ can be used even if a user didn’t complete the task successfully.
In terms of the UX process, SEQ typically makes the most sense when testing prototypes or conducting usability tests on a live website or app to in order improve the user experience. Administering SEQ Nudges during the prototyping phase gives clear usability insights to help improve a prototype pre-deployment.
Of course, SEQ is also valuable when testing the usability of a live product at the validation phase as you work to determine what changes can make the user experience more frictionless.
Because SEQ should be used specifically after a task is performed, it’s important to make sure your Nudge is targeted correctly. If your placement or timing is off, you run the risk of asking the question at the wrong time and collecting less relevant insights.
For best results, the SEQ for a task should be compared to the scores for other tasks. This will help you determine which parts of the user experience seem the most difficult to the users, and focus your improvement efforts strategically.
How to Use SEQ
Set up with Templates
SEQ is one of the industry standard surveys we were thrilled to offer our community with the launch of Templates. We’ll walk you through how to use the SEQ Template below.
Start running your SEQ with Qualaroo in 3 simple steps!
- Select the right channel.
- Decide where you want to run your Nudge (desktop, mobile web, prototype, mobile app) and select “Choose Template.”
- Don’t worry–you can run this survey on as many channels as your organization needs by creating additional surveys so that you cover the different domains your organization spans.
- Find your template.
- Select SEQ from our list of pre-vetted templates. You can type “SEQ” into the search bar to find it of filter by validate/prototype.
- Note that there are two different versions with slightly different wording. Select the one you prefer.
- Create, edit and publish your survey!
- Something to keep in mind for timing is:
- Targeting based on exit-intent is a common strategy and is easy to do with Qualaroo. You may interpret a participant about to leave your page before completing a task as high perceived difficulty of the task. This could be an ideal time to launch your SEQ.
- Determine the average time it takes to complete the tasks you’re researching and use that information to time your questions. We suggest making sure that this part is tailored to the specific experience with your product or website, and not a general estimate. This is because the time it takes to complete similar tasks on different interfaces can vary. While logging into some apps may be straightforward and take only a minute or so, other decisions or tasks are not quite as straight forward, like deciding on the details of a larger purchase such as furniture. Once you’ve tested this with a few participants, you can adjust the timing of your Nudge as needed.
- Because the SEQ is pretty straightforward, you don’t need to do much customizing apart from making sure you get your targeting/timing correct.
Interpreting Your Results
The nice thing about interpreting your SEQ results is how straightforward your responses will be. According to MeasuringU, the average response is between 5.3 and 5.6. This benchmark can help you determine which tasks are especially easy or difficult for your users.
We strongly recommend using this data comparatively to find the areas of improvement that will make the biggest difference for your users. If you’d like to go even further with your data, check out this piece by Jeff Sauro on using SEQ to make estimates about task completion rates and times.
Pros and Cons of SEQ
- It doesn’t get much more simple than SEQ. With just one question and a numeric response, SEQ is very straightforward and you can get it up and running pretty quickly, especially with the help of Templates.
- Even with its simplicity, the SEQ performs as well or better than more complicated approaches. (Source)
- Easy scoring means easy interpretation. You won’t have to spend much time wondering about the implications of a certain word choice because all you really need to do is average your responses.
- Because the SEQ is supposed to be asked right after a task is performed, the data is not only specific but should also be accurate as the memory is fresh.
- One of the biggest benefits of the SEQ, its simplicity, can also be seen as a weakness. Because the SEQ is just one question and does not have an open-ended component baked in, we recommend you ask why to get better context around the responses you receive.
- It requires validation. If a specific task is rated as very difficult, you may want to look at the average amount of time it takes users to complete that task and the completion rate, to better understand how difficult it really is. As MeasuringU puts it, “validating attitudinal data like the SEQ involves showing how the numbers we assign to attitudes (things we can’t observe directly) correspond to actions (things we can observe directly).” Why is this? Because SEQ measures attitude, which is inherently subjective.
SEQ is a great way to focus your usability testing efforts. Rather than recording a vague impression of the overall experience of a task, the SEQ is designed to be granular, as it’s task-specific. Of course, like with many simple surveys, you’ll need to examine your responses in context, to get actionable insights.
If you have any additional questions or would like to get in touch with a customer success manager about setting up this template, please submit a request here. We are always looking for ways to ensure that Qualaroo can become easier for you to use, more satisfying and more useful for your needs.
Available for channels:
- Web Desktop
- Web Mobile