How To Run a Usability Test? Usability Testing Guide
04 Mar 2023Content
Table of Contents
Imagine the following scenario:
You are a self-starter, a forward-thinking individual, who is always on the hunt for something that could make your life easier or more enjoyable. When you stumbled across the newest productivity app that promised to revolutionise the way you work and organise your personal life, you had to give it a try.
You excitedly download the app and start playing around. After spending some time with it, you find that not only did you have difficulty navigating through the app but also felt like it took way too much of your precious time to figure out how to use all features.
Feeling frustrated and discouraged by this experience, you quickly uninstall the app without any second thoughts.
Well, situations like this can be avoided entirely as long as you conduct usability testing before launching the product!
In this blog post, we’ll dive deeper into what usability testing and user research are and why it’s an integral part of any project or product launch. From setting objectives to analysing results, you’ll learn the ins and outs of usability testing to ensure your digital products are as smooth and efficient as possible.
What Is Usability Testing? Why Do I Need It?
Usability testing assesses how easy it is for users to interact with a product. It employs various data-collection methods to gather and then analyse user feedback. We believe that the best results come from testing no more than five participants and running as many small tests as possible.” — Akash Shakya, Director of EB Pearls
In other words, usability testing determines how easy it is for test participants to achieve the desired outcome when interacting with a product such as an app or website. It implies creating tasks for real users to complete, and then analysing test results to further improve the product.
What are the main phases of usability testing?
The first phase of usability testing consists of developing or identifying benchmarks and standards for the tasks that are being tested. In the second stage, you must have participants perform these tasks without interacting with the test moderator. Lastly, you need to collect and analyse the data, as usability testing focuses primarily on collecting quantitative data.
Performing usability tests can help comprehend user behaviours, expectations, frustrations, successes, and preferences, which can provide invaluable data for improving the usability of designs.
In short, how to run a usability test:
- Before conducting the tests, set or identify benchmarks or standards for all tasks;
- Participants must complete tasks without interacting with the test moderator;
- After conducting the tests, collect and analyse the data, primarily quantitative data.
No doubt, usability testing is an effective way to get valuable feedback on your product before its launch. It allows you to observe how users navigate the interface, what features work well, which features don’t, and, most importantly, if it solves the problem it aims to do.
As we like to say, understanding the user is critical — if the software you’re building is not doing what the users want it to, they’re not going to use it!
Why is usability testing necessary?
Nowadays, it’s safe to say that usability testing is a must for any project launch, enabling companies to make sure their customers are getting nothing less than smooth-sailing experiences every single time they use their digital products.
Conducting usability tests will save your organisation a lot of resources — time, money, and so much more. Why is that? Conducting usability testing throughout the design process enables you to gather feedback from actual users and optimise your product accordingly.
So how does this work? During usability testing, participants are asked to perform certain tasks while their movements and experiences are recorded to understand how they interact with the product design.
Why is this necessary? It enables designers to make improvements and fixes before public launch so that users experience an intuitive app or website.
Usability testing can result in improved user engagement, better usability interface elements, and overall higher customer satisfaction with products.
What Is The Difference Between Usability Testing And User Testing?
A user test determines whether or not the user needs, likes, or accepts certain features. A usability test determines whether the new feature functions as it should and enables you to check if and how efficiently the product allows users to reach the desired outcome. It is conducted by observing users as they interact with the system and collecting data, such as task completion times, user feedback, and other performance metrics.
Regardless of their differences, both usability testing and user testing have the overlapping goal of collecting some form of user feedback and turning it into actionable steps before the launch of a product.
What is The Difference Between UAT (User Acceptance Testing) and Usability Testing?
Usability Testing and User Acceptance Testing (UAT) are two important stages of the software development testing process.
While user testing helps identify potential usability issues or last-minute changes before launching a product (or service), UAT is used to find flaws in an app or website’s design and is performed toward the final stages of the design process.
Both usability testing and UAT help improve the overall performance of a system by highlighting any areas for improvement prior to release.
4 Most Common Questions About Usability Testing
What Are The Main Usability Testing Methods?
Among the most common app and website usability testing methods we have:
- Guerilla Testing
A simple but effective testing method that implies finding random participants in public spaces (such as coffee shops) that you can then ask to try your prototype and provide feedback.
- Moderated In-Person Testing
Normally, it is conducted in controlled settings (i.e., lab) where the facilitator (or moderator) can closely observe user behaviour, and can be expensive and time-consuming for smaller businesses or organizations looking for a shorter turnaround period.
- Remote Testing
Remote testing, which can be both moderated or unmoderated, is an efficient and cost-effective way to gain insights into how people interact with your product, enabling access to a large pool of test subjects from various locations, particularly when conducted online.
Who Should Conduct a User Testing Session?
Every usability test needs at least a facilitator (usually the researcher) and three or more (up to five) participants, but may also involve one or more moderators, depending on the research method used, as mentioned above.
Not only will this ensure the process is conducted efficiently and effectively but also lead to successful, action-oriented results that can be used to make informed decisions about user experience and design.
What Issues Do You Uncover During a Usability Test?
The goal of usability testing is to detect usability issues that are preventing users from achieving the desired outcome while interacting with the app or website.
These tests typically uncover common usability and technical issues including (but not limited to):
- Navigation flow issues
- Lack of clarity in designs
- Content that is difficult to read and follow
- Broken links
- Browser compatibility issues
All of these usability issues contribute to a negative user experience and understanding them helps create better solutions for users.
What To Do After The Usability Evaluation?
Once you’ve identified usability problems, there are several things you can do. Be bold in experimenting with various designs that can fix usability issues, but first and foremost, consider implementing changes suggested by your participants.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach as every project is unique. Generally, we advise to:
- Identify and prioritise issues – not all issues uncovered during testing will be equally important, and some may be more easily fixed than others.
- Come up with an action plan – after identifying what needs to be fixed, determine who is responsible for the resolution, when they’re expected to deliver the fix, and how they’re going to achieve it.
- Implement the changes – after assigning roles and establishing deadlines, start implementing the changes in a timely manner.
- Test again – this way you can make sure that the changes you have made have actually improved the usability of your app or website.
- Celebrate your success (or repeate all the steps above) – if everything goes as planned, gently pat yourself on the back and enjoy the results!
By taking these measures and continually considering usability when innovating products, developers can ensure they’re providing their customers with the best experience possible.
Last Thoughts On Usability Testing
Usability testing is a fundamental part of user-centred design, allowing you to identify any roadblocks that could stand in the way of building a successful product that meets user expectations — allowing you to identify usability issues before they become inefficient and costly for your app or website.
As a recap, performing usability testing is imperative before launching a digital product since it:
- Enables you to identify and solve any issues that are preventing users from reaching the desired outcome;
- Ensures that your digital products are smooth and efficient as possible, leading to higher rates of return;
- Saves you precious resources in the long run and spares you the costly and time-consuming rework after launch!
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“We’re very happy with the results of EB Pearls’ work. Since its launch, the app has had over 7,000 downloads, with around 6,000 users completing the signup process in the first 6 weeks. ”
— Founder at Intro Dating