Usability Testing introduction

Go to previous article – A guide to Accessibility Testing

What is Usability Testing?

usability testingUsability testing refers to the evaluation of a product or service by testing it with representative users. This testing is carried out to measure how intuitive or usable the product is, how satisfied the users are and how easy it is for users to reach their goals.

During a usability test, participants (real users) are made to complete typical tasks while observers (usually the designers or developer team) watch, listen and takes notes.  The aim is to identify any usability problem, determine the participant’s satisfaction and collect qualitative and quantitative data about the product.

To run an effective usability test, a solid test plan must be developed; participants must be recruited, and findings are then analyzed and reported. With usability testing, bias is removed because feedbacks are collected directly from the end user.

Different types of usability testing or reason for which it is done exists. Some of them include:

Comparative Usability Testing

This is used to compare the usability of one website, software or other digital product with another. It is usually used to compare against peer or competitor product. However, it can also be done to compare two or more designs to establish which provides the best user experience.

Explorative Usability Testing

This is done before a new product is launched. It helps to establish the content and functionality the product should include so that end users’ needs can be met. Here, users test a range of different services, and they are given realistic scenarios to complete which aids in highlighting any gap in the market that can be taken advantage of and also illustrate where to focus design or development efforts before the product is launched.

Usability Evaluation

This refers to the usability test of a new or updated service and it can either be pre or post-launch. It helps to introduce users to the upgrade to ensure it provides a positive user experience and is intuitive to use. The aim of this is to ensure that any potential issues are highlighted and fixed before the update is launched.

Advantages of Usability Testing

Usability testing has numerous advantages as it lets the design and development teams identify problems before and after they are coded. The earlier problems are identified and fixed; the less expensive and stressful the fixes will be concerning staff time and possible impact to the schedule. 

Other advantages include:

  • It helps to discover how satisfied participants (representative users) are with your website or other product
  • It helps to identify changes required to increase and smoothen user experience and performance
  • It also helps to analyze the performance of your product to see if it meets usability objectives
  • It helps minimize the risk of the product failing

In conclusion, despite not being able to mimic real life usage hundred percent, it is still the best means to ensure your website or product supports end users in achieving their goals easily and quickly.  When businesses meet the expectation and needs of their users, chances are high that they will offer a successful service.

You might also like to read about Stress Testing

And, Check out our a guide to Accessibility Testing

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