Usability testing is a method to see how convenient something is to use; by testing it with real users. This allows researchers to uncover any problems with the user experience of their product, decide how to fix these problems, and determine whether the product is usable enough or not.
This method can detect about 85% of UX-related problems by performing usability tests on a group of 5 users. To do usability testing we just need to find some volunteers or paid users who are willing to spend their time and come forward to test the design either remote or in our lab or in their own environment.
The important thing, we have to tell the user before using is not to take any pressure i.e. it is not a test of their technical skills, but a test of the design and thinks everything out loud because that will give us much better information.
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What is not usability testing?
Several people confuse usability testing with software testing but Software testing is the process of finding errors in the developed product. It also checks whether the real outcomes can match expected results, as well as aids in the identification of defects, missing requirements, or gaps. Usability testing refers to evaluating a product or service by testing it with representative users.
Why usability testing?
You can’t fix something if you don’t know it’s broken. Companies and agencies that foster a culture of testing can identify what’s broken or not working best, and develop improvements centered around those results. Usability testing is helpful because it focuses on actual behavior patterns and design solutions, as opposed to relying solely on assumptions and determining solutions by customers or designers.
There are 5 major benefits of usability testing which include:
- Usability testing will save more than enough time to develop the actual application or software. Making changes to a design or prototype is easier than developing it.
- If there are any mistakes or different insights that we change before launching, this will increase the use of the application. Which brings more users to our product.
- Usability testing is convenient. Conveniently, you can conduct your study in different ways, such as remotely, face-to-face, or via video chat.
- To do your study, all you have to do is find a quiet room and bring portable recording equipment. You can also just take notes if you don’t have recording equipment.
- When the team is working on a project, there are many different opinions on the design as well, and that problem can also be solved by testing.
When to conduct usability testing?
A common question from newcomers to the field is “When should we test?”. The answer is – you test before you make any design decisions, or when it’s time to evaluate and iterate, and then you test after launch.
Before making any design decisions
Performing usability testing helps us identify the most important user pain points before making any design decisions. By observing how users behave, we can uncover hidden needs that people don’t make clear during interviews or surveys.
To redesign products, the process can be as simple as watching someone interacting with the current version of the product. If you’re building something from the start, you can test how your audience uses a competitor’s product.
At this time, designers often skip user testing, which can be a costly mistake.
When it’s time to evaluate and iterate
Once you have made some design decisions and created a wireframe or prototype, you transition to an evaluation phase.
At this point, we prefer to develop low-fidelity wireframes and conduct a series of behavioral research to obtain feedback on the design. This helps us to iterate faster without changing high-fidelity UI elements.
Next, we develop a clickable prototype, which is when we see how well our design solves the problem we set out to address.
There’s always something that can be improved, and it’s important to keep running usability tests if you want to continue optimizing your design – or if you want to start developing new features.
How to Run Usability Tests
Step 1 – Define the Goals
- The problems or areas you want to focus on: What is the purpose of the test? Which areas of your e-commerce website will benefit the most from usability testing?
- The type of users you want to test: Generally, these are representative of your user persona, but you might want to drill down on a certain segment more specifically.
- Questions you want to ask: What specific questions do you want to ask users about your website? What are you trying to find out?
Step 2 – Create Tasks and Guide the Discussion
- What it means: You are going to carefully plan the specific scenarios in order to guarantee clear and actionable results. In which you will take your participants, and the tasks your participants will need to complete. The researcher does this by writing a specific scenario that provides a context for the test tasks. For example, let’s say you’re testing an e-commerce store that sells clothing.
Step 3 – Recruit Participants
- Who you recruit, and how, depends on your testing goals: how much information you need and therefore how long your sessions should be, and your budgetary constraints.
Step 4 – Install the Environment
- Set up a room or set up a screen share, depending on whether you’re meeting in person or remotely. Record a user’s screen session with something like Silverback (Mac only), GoToMeeting, or More.
Step 5 – Moderate the sessions
- When it’s time to conduct a usability test session, you or your moderator should follow a set protocol with each participant. This protocol allows some room for customization but still guarantees an overall standardized experience for each test subject.
Step 6 – Analyze the Data
- Finally, after gathering all your data, it’s time to analyze the results and draw conclusions. Try to do it as soon as possible after the test so that the observations are fresh in your mind.
- As you go over the data, users will encounter the most serious or persistent problems that need further investigation.
Step 7 – Create and submit the usability test report
- Usability study reports are an effective way of summarizing results to share with stakeholders.
Step 8 – Check if Approved Recommendations are Included.
Difference between usability testing and software/QA testing
Many people confuse usability testing with software testing. But software testing is the process of finding errors in the developed product. It helps to pinpoint whether actual results can match with expected results, and also assists in the identification of defects, gaps, and missing requirements. Usability testing refers to testing and evaluating a product or service with representative users.
Quality assurance is associated with the programming part of the software development process. Manual or automatic, it’s not just about finding bugs or technical issues with apps.
Since this discipline is developing dynamically in many directions in software houses, the responsibilities and assignments of QA specialists are being broadened.
One of the areas exemplifying this process is the growth of usability testing – the area where software testing is getting closer to user experience
Although related, the differences between the two types of testing are clear and important to the testing process. A simple way to think about the difference between QA testing and usability testing is that QA assesses whether a product works that way, whereas usability measures whether the end user can access those functions or not and can use the product successfully.
What is not usability testing?
Many UX tools help improve the customer experience but do not qualify as ‘user testing tools ‘ because they do not clearly replicate the experience of real users testing a website for functionality.
A/B Testing:A/B testing is a method of experimenting with multiple versions of a webpage to see which one is most effective. Unlike usability testing, which observes and examines user behavior.
Focus Groups: When conducting a focus group, researchers gather with a group of people to discuss a specific topic. Typically, the goal is to get people’s opinions about a product or service, not to test how they use it.
Surveys: They do not allow you to see site visitors in action, surveys are not considered usability tests – although they can be used in conjunction with it.
Heatmaps: Heat mapping software provides a visual representation of where users are the hottest (most popular) and best (least) on the page.
QA & Bug Testing: Often clients get confused between UT and QA & Bug Testing. But quality analysis and bug testing are not usability testing. QA and bug testing are for the product’s functionality.