Usability testing refers to the testing of a website or application using a targeted group of people to see if they encounter problems or experience confusion, while performing customer journeys. The participant’s purpose is to evaluate whether the user interface is user-friendly and if it allows the user to complete the intended tasks successfully and with ease.
Why is usability testing needed?
In an industry dedicated to creating a great digital experience for people who use their products, services, and apps, usability testing is paramount. Companies regularly build software and other products for the consumer to use. Usability testing is necessary to ensure the product created is easy to use for the end-user. If it is not user-friendly, users may not be inclined to use the product or software application, and are likely to use a competitor’s product/website.
When should usability testing be implemented?
Usability testing should be performed throughout the product/ application development cycle. At the very least, usability testing can be deployed before a product or application is sold or used by paying customers. Once obvious issues have been identified, there will be time to fix them during the development cycle. Complex issues can be fixed at the first maintenance release.
Who needs usability testing?
Usability testing is targeted at ensuring companies make user-friendly products. Thus, every company that produces user-facing products, such as websites and applications, needs usability testing to ensure that their product is user-friendly.
Usability testing execution
A usability testing expert will talk to the client and understand their pain points and desired goals. They will also undertake an expert review of the application or product. The usability expert will then compile the feedback and designs into a plan that will be executed by the test participants. After the testers have completed the trial period test, the usability expert analyses the data gathered and compiles a report that organises the results of the tests in order of urgency, along with suggestions for improvements and changes.
Usability testing methods
Usability researchers have developed techniques over the years for testing and validating the product hypothesis and particular design decisions. The methods range from well-known lab-based usability studies to those that have been more recently developed.
One should have a clear understanding of the target audience, available resources such as time and money, and research objectives before defining a test plan.
- Moderated usability testing
Testing is done in a controlled environment such as the development office and supervised by a moderator. This kind of testing is done when targeting in-depth information on the user interaction with the product and the issues they face.
- Unmoderated remote usability testing
This testing occurs remotely without a moderator. Participants are usually asked to complete some tasks in their own environment using their own devices and without a moderator present. This kind of testing is best used when wanting to obtain a large sample of tests, providing a hypothesis from your initial moderated research.
This is similar to an interview/observation exercise that helps a product development team to obtain information about the user experience from real users. This is best done at the beginning of the design process to enable the product team to design a well-tailored experience.
A phone interview refers to a remote usability test where a moderator instructs participants to complete certain tasks on their device and give feedback on the product or application they are testing. This is best to collect feedback from test participants scattered around different parts of the globe.
Session recording involves anonymously recording the actions that real users take while they interact with a site. This data helps to understand what content/features most interest the users. Also, what problems the users encounter when they interact with your product.
Card sorting allows you to prioritise the content and the user interface of the application product, it allows the participants to sort the information in a logical manner that makes sense to them.
Usability testing can be used in various ways throughout the websites development and deployment process. Usability testing mimics the real-life usage of a website or application and is the best way to ensure your website users are supported and feel confident while performing journeys and conversions.