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What is Usability Testing?

Companies want their products to stand out from their competition and be adored by their audience. Creating beautiful, eye-catching designs is the easy part. Making sure your users have proper usability is what really separates a good product from a bad one. Usability testing is often repeated from early development stages and after the product releases. In this post, we’ll define the value of usability testing, explore the different methods, and walkthrough some key best practices to help your team get started.

What is usability testing?

Usability testing is a way to measure the success of a product or feature by testing it with real users. It helps determine if the user can or cannot use the product. This is done by monitoring the user’s behaviours as they interact with it and perform specific tasks. Testing at various stages of the product will identify areas that require modifications to minimize risk, save development time, and save the company money.

 

The phrase, “The customer is always right,” comes to mind when thinking about usability testing. Providing the ideal customer experience is the same when it comes to developing new and unique products – your users have valid input because they are the ones using it. Understanding how your users are interacting with the product and listening to their concerns, will only benefit your product in the long run. The goal of conducting usability tests are to reveal moments of frustration, receive unbiased feedback and identify areas of improvement.

Why is usability testing valuable?

“The most effective way of understanding what works and what doesn’t in an interface is to watch people use it.”

Marieke McCloskey

Usability testing has a significant impact on your product’s user experience (UX). It determines the product’s success from the point of view of your desired audience. Those who are involved in the creation of the product may find it easy to use, but your audience may not. Think of it this way, if you design a shopping app, but users don’t know how to add items to their shopping cart then they won’t continue to use the app, or process sales resulting in harming your company’s revenue.

“Design is really an act of communication, which means having a deep understanding of the person with whom the designer is communicating.”

Don Norman

Usability testing lets the design and development teams pinpoint any problems in advance, which can save you a lot of time and money. The value of watching, listening and observing how your users interact with your design will allow you to provide a better user experience for your product. It is important to conduct usability tests because it will provide meaningful user insight, help make user-centered design decisions and avoid expensive development errors by proactively addressing the user’s needs with the findings.

Types of Usability Tests

There are two common usability testing methods to help kickstart your user testing process:

 

Unmoderated Usability Testing

If you’re looking for a fast and convenient way to receive user feedback, unmoderated testing is for you. Participants will use software such as Usertesting.com or Maze to complete specific tasks on their own time. The benefits of unmoderated tests are you can hire users of your targeted audience directly from the software, link your prototype, observe heatmaps or click views, and create post-test questionnaires.

Moderated Usability Testing

In-person testing offers a higher level of depth and insight. Whether you’re physically there with your participant or virtually observing from Zoom, you can ask follow-up questions, monitor their behaviour, emotions, and listen to their honest thoughts about the design. Moderated tests allow you to observe the interactions live and capture any notes in real-time.

Usability Testing Best Practices

1. Prepare A Plan

Having a clear idea of what you’re going to test and identifying your user personas will help you choose the platform and method that is best for you.

2. Define Roles

Create a list of your team members who will be involved in the testing and identify their roles for the session (moderators, note-takers etc.)

3. Schedule Your Tests

Recruit or hire your participants based on your personas and schedule a session with them.

4. Create A Script

Determine the scope of the test, make actionable tasks, and address any open-ended questions. 

5. Review and Analyze

Once the results are in, it’s time to highlight any key issues, insights, quotes, and overall feedback from your users.

Say Yes to a User Test

Usability testing is a powerful method that can have a greater impact on your business and product. You receive real, meaningful, and actionable insights directly from your target audience – remember the customer comes first. It helps you determine if the UX and other elements of the product are ideal for your users. Don’t wait, start testing by preparing a plan and choosing the right method for your team to improve and enhance your creation.

 

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