Problem Users in User Testing – Mr. or Mrs. Angry

Welcome back to our short series on users who cause problems for UX researchers or UX testers. So far in this series we’ve looked at four different user types, the shy person, the person who just won’t shut up, the person who digresses at the drop of a hat, and the scatterbrain. If you’ve missed these user types, check under the UX Daily tab on our website to find them.

Today, we’re going to look at a different type of user. The first four cause trouble for us through no fault of their own. It’s just the way they are. Today’s user is someone who definitely wants to cause trouble and doesn’t care who knows it.

Mr. or Mrs. Angry

In a perfect world Mr. or Mrs. Angry would be talking to the customer care department. They’ve got a chip on their shoulder and they’ve brought a big axe to grind. They’re unhappy with something about your product, your service or indeed life in general and they want to share that unhappiness.



They don’t want to follow a neatly scripted test plan or research methodology; they want to get something off their chest instead. This doesn’t mean, necessarily, that they’re going to scream and shout and abuse you (though unfortunately in the worst, worst case scenario that might be true too) but it does mean that every opportunity you get – they’re going to jump up and start whining about their real agenda. They will ignore what you want in order to do that too.

Handling Mr. or Mrs. Angry

Perhaps, the easiest way to deal with this kind of person is to listen to them for a few minutes and then offer to resolve the problem after the interview – if they agree to park that problem for the interview. You’ll need a direct line to someone in customer care so that you can arrange a time (and possibly a place if they can meet face-to-face) to handle that issue to their satisfaction.



This can head the problem off at the pass and if someone hasn’t passed beyond the point of reason; it’s often enough for them to drop the issue and move forward in a spirit of harmony (and in the hopes that by behaving well, they’ll get to shout at the person they really want to shout at later).

You may need to refocus them with gentle reminders during the process too if they start letting the anger creep back in.



If, the person becomes abusive at any point though – it’s time to terminate the interview. If you are in fear of your safety or the safety of the environment, you should call for security and have them escort the user from the test. Otherwise, politely but firmly terminate the interview. Pay the user or compensate them in the agreed manner and ask them to leave. You don’t need to risk your sanity or safety for any user tests. It’s better to live with the costs of finding another participant.

 Header Image: Author/Copyright holder: Wikia. Copyright terms and licence: Public Domain. 

Image Source:

Chron (link to image)

List Crux (link to image)

Dr Hurd (link to image)

Kevin Hoxie (link to image)

Make design better: share this article