Usability testing is a technique used in user-centered interaction design to evaluate a product by testing it on users.
This can be seen as an irreplaceable usability practice, since it gives direct input on how real users use the system.
It is more concerned with the design intuitiveness of the product and tested with users who have no prior exposure to it.
Such testing is paramount to the success of an end product as a fully functioning app that creates confusion amongst its users will not last for long.
This is in contrast with usability inspection methods where experts use different methods to evaluate a user interface without involving users.
Usability testing focuses on measuring a human-made product's capacity to meet its intended purpose. Examples of products that commonly benefit from usability testing are food, consumer products, web sites or web applications, computer interfaces, documents, and devices. Usability testing measures the usability, or ease of use, of a specific object or set of objects, whereas general human–computer interaction studies attempt to formulate universal principles.
Usability Testing Checklist
The primary goal of this testing is to find crucial usability problems before the product is launched. Following things have to be considered to make a testing success:
- Start the UX testing during the early stage of design and development
- It's good practice to conduct usability testing on your competitor's product before you begin development. This will help you determine usability standards for your target audience
- Select the appropriate users to test the system (Can be experts/non-experts users/ 50-50 of Experts and Non-Experts users)
- Use a bandwidth shaper. For instance , your target audience has poor network connectivity, limit network bandwidth to say 56 Kbps for your usability testers.
- Testers need to concentrate on critical & frequently used functionalities of the system.
- Assign a single observer to each tester. This helps the observer to accurately note the tester's behavior. If an observer is assigned to multiple testers, results may be compromised.
- Educate Designers and Developers that this testing outcomes is not a sign of failure but it's a sign of Improvement.
Process Flow of Usability Testing
- During the design phase, you could just take draw your website/application design on a piece of paper and evaluate whether it is going to work or not.
- An exploratory method would be to build the site and perform some random tests (by the development/design/QA- any or all internal teams) to determine usability factors.
- Hire a set of real-time users to work on the site and report results.
- Use a tool that would provide statistics based on the input wireframes and designs submitted.
- Hire a third-party usability team that specializes in this field.
- Submit your site design and wireframes to an external evaluator and get results from them.
Pro’s and Con’s
- Usability testing is immensely helpful in finding defects and bugs which are not visible to the developer.
- They allow you to gather in depth information about users’ behaviour.
- They rely on evaluation of what users actually do, rather than what they say they do.
- It is also widely held that user acceptance is positively impacted through usability testing, and customer loyalty increases as well in the long run.
- They can be costly in terms of facilities and equipment and also staff time.
- The data can be fairly complex and time consuming to analyse.
- They require a significant commitment by participants.