WHAT IS IT?
Usability testing is the practice of testing how easy a design is to use on a group of representative users. It usually involves observing users as they attempt to complete tasks. It is often conducted repeatedly, from early development until a product’s release. The broader the testing and the greater the number of matters raised, the stronger the likelihood that designers can craft more successful products.
WHEN TO BE USED?
Usability Testing can be used in a variety of ways during the project lifecycle. It is recommended to do usability testing early on. It is easy to incorporate it early in the design process and will have the most significant impact the earlier applied. The main benefit and purpose of usability testing are to identify usability problems with a design as early as possible so they can be fixed before the design is implemented or mass produced. As such, usability testing is often conducted on prototypes rather than finished products, with different levels of fidelity (i.e., detail and finish) depending on the development phase. Prototypes tend to be more primitive, low-fidelity versions (e.g., paper sketches) during early development, and then take the form of more detailed, high-fidelity versions (e.g., interactive digital mock-ups) closer to release.
TYPES OF USABILITY TESTING
- Hallway testing: It is also called random testing and is used majorly for mobile applications as they are used on the go. So, the best way to test them is randomly in hallways and observing users in hallways using these applications. It gives us more real data as while using mobile applications there is more distraction as compared to desktop applications.
- Lab testing: It is planned and structured testing where there are a moderator and observer along with the user to analyze the data. Usability labs have a glass wall for the observer to observe. There are cameras to capture the expressions of the user. A good example is Morae software which provides the software to set up a Usability Lab.
- Online testing: Usability testing can also be conducted online for remote users by sending them links and it is captured using Usability testing online tools like usertesting.com.
- Eye Tracking: Eye tracking is a part of usability testing where the user’s eyeballs are tracked to understand the content on the website or application.
- Unmoderated Remote Usability Testing (URUT): The idea is that participants will work on a task (or tasks) in their usual environment without the need for a moderator to be present. These tasks are presented to the user via an online platform. Data is captured from URUT in one of two ways. The first is via click-stream and in this instance, URUT often resembles a survey and captures quantitative data for researchers. The second is via video and will provide a more qualitative insight into user behavior.
HOW TO CONDUCT USABILITY TESTING?
In a typical usability test, a test moderator gives test participants a series of tasks that they must perform with the design. Five participants are enough for initial phase testing. The tasks represent actions that an end user would typically carry out with the finished product. During the test, the moderator observes each participant’s actions, often also recording the test session on video. After analyzing the results of a usability test, the moderator reports on several points of interest that arose—these include issues such as the aspects of the design that caused problems and the severity of these problems, as well as places in the design that the participants particularly liked.
- Feedback direct from the target audience to focus the project team.
- Internal debates can be resolved by testing the issue to see how users react to the different options being discussed.
- Issues and potential problems are highlighted before the product is launched
- It minimizes the risk of the product failing.
- Users are able to reach their goals, which results in the business meeting its targets.
- Testing is not 100% representative of the real-life scenario.
- Usability testing is mainly qualitative, so does not provide the large samples of feedback that a questionnaire might, but the feedback can be far more accurate and insightful.