Usability testing is a technique used in user-centric interaction design to evaluate a product by testing it on users. The goal is to reveal areas of confusion and uncover opportunities to improve the overall user experience.

Usability testing evaluates the ease of use

The key difference between usability testing and traditional testing (bug testing, acceptance testing, etc.) is that usability testing takes place with actual users or customers of the product. Whilst traditional testing might be undertaken by a developer, designer or project manager, usability testing removes any bias by collecting feedback direct from the end-user.

There are a few different types of usability testing or reasons to conduct usability research:

Comparative Usability Testing

Used to compare the usability of one website with another. Comparative tests are commonly used to compare a website against peer or competitor sites, however, it can also be used to compare two designs to establish which provides the best user experience.

Explorative Usability Testing

Before a new product is released, explorative usability testing can establish what content and functionality a new product should meet the needs of its users. Users test a range of different services where they are given realistic scenarios to complete which helps to highlight any gaps in the market that can be taken advantage of and illustrate where to focus design effort.

Usability Evaluation

This is a test of a new or updated service either pre or post-launch. This usability test introduces users to the new design to ensure it is intuitive to use and provides a positive user experience. The aim of the usability evaluation is to ensure any potential issues are highlighted and fixed before the product is launched.

example test case for usability testing

The usability testing determines whether an application or a website is:

  • Useful
  • Findable
  • Accessible
  • Usable
  • Desirable

Usability Testing VS User Testing

The confusion between usability testing and user testing is still there for most of the developers, project managers, and even UX designers.

Some people believe user testing is the process of validating the demand for a product, whereas usability testing determines whether users can or cannot do what they need to do on an existing prototype. In this scenario, user testing comes before product creation, while usability testing comes later.

Others define user testing as any testing by users, an umbrella that would include usability testing but not allow the two terms to be used interchangeably.

Advantage of Usability Testing

  • Usability testing finds important bugs and potholes of the tested application which will be not visible to the developer.
  • Using correct resources, usability test can assist in fixing all problems that user face before application releases.
  • Usability test can be modified according to the requirement to support other types of testing such as functional testing, system integration testing, Unit testing, smoke testing, etc.
  • Planned Usability testing becomes very economic, highly successful, and beneficial.
  • Issues and potential problems are highlighted before the product is launched.

Testing usability is an art and a science. Have you ever worked on Usability testing? What is your experience while testing these applications?

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