Usability testing is the testing of a website or application to gauge its level of usability. Contrary to popular belief, ‘usability’ does not refer to how easy it is to use the website or application, but rather user satisfaction, type of engineering, as well as some other factors that provides you with valuable information on the efficiency, effectiveness, ease-of-use and customer satisfaction of a particular website or application
In a nutshell, usability testing is all about carrying out tests to observe the behaviour of the users in an attempt to find out what works and what doesn’t.
Why Should You Care?
During initial stages of a new product creation, usability testing helps find problems early on, meaning they are often easier to solve. Usability testing on a matured product helps toward a better understanding of user success rates, as well as the amount of time spent on each task.
Usability testing benefits:
- Allows you to test a product to meet the consumer expectations.
- Find out whether or not the product is efficient for real-world use.
- Tweak the product to remove any flaws.
- Interact with users for valuable feedback to improve the product.
Usability Testing Challenges:
Usability testing has widespread recognition for its effectiveness in improving websites and mobile applications. The process however, still poses some very common challenges to UX teams:
- Finding the right set of users to answer pressing questions UX designers face daily.
- Finding a large number of users to participate in the testing process.
- Dealing with the pressure to deliver results following usability testing.
- Recruiting your technical team on a budget.
Top 5 Tips for Usability Testing…
Tip 1: Start Testing as Soon as You Can
Usability testing early on is key in developing and sustaining a successful ecommerce website or mobile application. Early testing enables you to make the necessary changes with more ease and efficiency.
Usability testing early on can act as a preventative measure in problems arising in the later phases of the project’s development phase.
It’s important to bear in mind however, that businesses often carry out their usability tests too early on in the process and do not have enough metric data for a solid assessment. That being said, usability testing should be carried out early enough in the process to mitigate any minute problems, such as problems with the interface or any other issues with the website or application.
Tip 2: Outline Your Objectives
Clear objectives are necessary for a usability test to be at all effective; agreed goals between team members, and the ability to see through the eyes of users, are vital factors in maximizing test outcome utility. The information gathered from each session should be your prime focus at this point.
Tip 3: Prepare Questions and Tasks
Preparing the right questions and tasks for users at the right times is key to the success of your usability tests. For a more in depth set of results, you can provide a scenario (rather than instructions) for participants to make active changes.
Whether you’re looking for the participants to complete tasks such as getting through a checkout successfully or running through their entire buyer’s journey hassle-free, asking the right questions at the right time is key to the success of your usability tests.
Tip 4: Test Before, During and After the Redesigns
One of the common questions that UX designers are plagued with is, “When is the right time to test?” The short answer to that question is: “before a redesign, during the redesign and post redesign.”
An approach that continually tests, reflects, and edits, offers users the best experience. Since there’s no formula when it comes to the perfect time to test the product, the best time is always before, during, and after any redesigns have been implemented to the website or application. This will let you know if a particular design choice you made was the right one.
Tip 5: Don’t Try to Solve Everything at Once
Prioritising your findings, attacking smaller problems first, followed by making changes to the larger more time-consuming problems later, is one way to approach making changes once test data results are in.
Contrary to popular belief, usability testing is not a ‘one-time fix all’… As consumers grow ever more demanding with regards to the quality of service, it pays to focus on usability testing as an on-going process that allows you to tweak your website or application for a more user-friendly experience.