What is Usability Testing?
Usability testing is the most common technique to check how usable your interface is from the human centre design framework. The power of this qualitative technique is that it focus on what the user do and not what the user say. Whether you give your users access to a website, a mobile app, or another software product, usability testing before the launch will be of utmost importance.
According to Forbes, various large brands report that usability design and UX testing have taken the business to the next level. IBM reports that every dollar invested in usability brings a return in the range from 10 to 100 dollars. According to Bezos, this strategy was the one that led to Amazon’s overwhelming success.
The objectives of this technique are:
- Gain insights from our users
- See if we meet user’s expectations
- Check if the design is matching business decision to real world use
- Check if the user can perform the tasks we proposed
- Find out if we’re on the right track
- Get user reactions and feedback
Usability testing reduces the risk of building the wrong thing. It saves money, time and other precious resources. It finds problems when they are still easy and cheap to fix. When a designer is working on some assignment, he’s so close to the solution that it that you may not realize that something could be improved by testing the proposed solution with real users.
The usability testing is an iterative process, it’s not one time blessing, you need to repeat the process until the design is not confusing anymore and your users are able to achieve the scenarios you propose.
How to do Usability Testing
Usability testing process consists of the following phases
Planning:- During this phase the goals of usability test are determined. You need to determine critical functionalities and objectives of the system. You need to assign tasks to your testers, which exercise these critical functionalities. During this phase, the usability testing method, number & demographics of usability testers, test report formats are also determined.
Recruiting: During this phase, you recruit the desired number of testers as per your usability test plan. Finding testers who match your demographic (age, sex etc.) and professional (education, job etc.) profile.
Usability Testing: During this phase, usability tests are actually executed.
Data Analysis: Data from usability tests is thoroughly analysed to derive meaningful inferences and give actionable recommendations to improve the overall usability of your product.
Reporting: Findings of the usability test is shared with all concerned stakeholders which can include designer, developer, client, and CEO.
Methods of Usability Testing
There are two methods available to do usability testing -
- Laboratory Usability Testing
- Remote Usability Testing
Laboratory Usability Testing
This testing is conducted in a separate lab room in presence of the observers. The testers are assigned tasks to execute. The role of the observer is to monitor the behaviour of the testers and report the outcome of testing. The observer remains silent during the course of testing. In this testing, both observers and testers are present in a same physical location.
Remote Usability Testing
Under this testing observers and testers are remotely located. Testers access the System Under Test, remotely and perform assigned tasks. Tester's voice , screen activity , testers facial expressions are recorded by an automated software. Observers analyse this data and report findings of the test.
Advantages of Usability Testing
- Direct feedback from the target audience to focus the project team
- Internal debates can be resolved by testing the issue to see how users react to the different options being discussed
- Issues and potential problems are highlighted before the product is launched.
- It increases the likelihood of usage
- It minimises the risk of the product failing
- Users will be able to reach their goals, which results in to meeting the business targets
Disadvantages of Usability Testing
- Cost is a major consideration in usability testing. It takes lots of resources to set up a Usability Test Lab. Recruiting and management of usability testers can also be expensive
- Firstly, testing is not 100% representative of the real life scenario
- Usability testing is mainly qualitative, so does not provide the large samples of
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