A Brief Look At Usability Testing – What Is it? Why Is It Useful?

What Is Usability Testing

It takes ‘the customer is always right’ to a new level: Usability testing allows your product or service users a direct say in identifying its weaknesses and highlighting improvements. By observing how your intended audience actually interacts with your product, usability testing offers an unbiased perspective.

The user experience or UX data can be analysed, becoming a useful tool for establishing business goals and developing marketing strategies.

Selecting The Type Of Usability Testing

Choosing the most appropriate testing method depends on the product: is it a physical product or is it digital, like a website? Businesses should also establish what their goals are in conducting UX research.

The Three Main Forms Of Usability Testing Are:

1. Comparative testing – where the product is compared against another, either an alternative product or a competitor’s, to understand which users prefer.

2. Explorative testing – testing is conducted at various developmental stages, to identify product purpose and direction. This method can identify gaps in the market by highlighting customer needs, which aren’t already being fulfilled within the current market. This can also save valuable time and resources during development.

3. Usability evaluation – this method is used when integrating upgrades to existing products, or evaluating older product versions to identify improvements for newer versions.

Conducting Usability Testing

Establishing a detailed process of usability testing will ensure the most beneficial outcome. There are 6 key stages of successful usability testing:

1. Decide what to test and how – why is the product being tested in the first place? What questions do you expect to have answered? What are the long-term goals of the product?

2. How will success be measured – look back at your usability testing goals. Will the testing be successful if it identifies why customers aren’t purchasing off your website, or if 75% of participants prefer your product over a competitor’s? Make your goals specific.

3. Develop a plan – how will the testing be performed? What questions will be asked? How many participants will there be? The planning stage is where the type of participants should be determined by creating detailed customer personas to ensure the testing is targeting your ideal users.

4. Recruit participants – where will you find these users? Recruit your testing participants, preferably in smaller groups of no more than 5, so enough attention can be paid to the thoughts of each user during testing.

5. Conduct testing – be methodical, tackling one product concern at a time. Encourage participants to think-out-loud, make notes or give feedback at every stage and ask relevant questions. What are the pros and cons, or what would they change about the product?

6. Analyse data and report findings – usability testing generates both qualitative and quantitative data. This data needs to be analysed and interpreted in the most effective way so that it can be used in decision-making. Developing a UX rating is an effective way of converting qualitative data into more measurable quantitative data by asking participants to score ease of use on a scale of 1-10, for example.

Usability Testing Puts The Customer First

Use it to gain a deeper understanding of your customers and their needs, enabling your business to target its efforts in the most effective way. Usability testing is a crucial element of market research which cannot be ignored.

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