Usability testing is a qualitative technique used for evaluating the design of a product or website. The technique involves the testing of the product with selected representative users to ascertain its user experience. With ‘usability’ essentially being the degree of ‘ease of use’ of a product, three qualitative variables determine a product’s usability - efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction.
To know all about usability testing, it is important to understand some fundamental aspects of this testing technique including its basics, setting up and methods.
Basics of Usability Testing
Usability testing technique is used in user-centric interaction design, to test whether it is easy for a group of representative to use the design. In other words, the focus of usability testing is measuring the capacity of a product to meet its intended purpose, in terms of its use by real users.
Usability testing is largely a kind of performance testing of a product. It involves the observation of users while they attempt the completion of certain tasks. This testing is carried out repeatedly at different stages of a project, right from the early development stage of a product until its final release. Usability testing holds great significance for computer interfaces, websites, web applications, devices and documents, as well as food and consumer products.
Setting up a Usability Test
A realistic scenario is simulated in order to run a usability test – making it easier to assess ease of product usage. For the test a participant performs some tasks using the under-testing product, while evaluators carry out a ‘dynamic verification’ of the product by watching and taking notes.
Thereafter, a ‘static verification’ of the product is made by evaluators to gather feedback on the product with the help of various test instruments including scripted instructions, paper prototypes, and questionnaires. Businesses must use the services of a top software testing company to run this and similar tests.
Common Usability Testing Methods
With usability testing being a common practice of user research, usability testing services pivot around different testing methods. The common usability testing methods are:
Hallway testing This is a fast and cheap usability testing method during which evaluators ask a few people, at random, to use the product being tested. This method enables designers to identify problems at the early design stage of a new product.
Remote usability testing This method of usability testing is carried out in a scenario in which the participants and evaluators testing a product are in different time zones. In such a case, usability testing is conducted with the help of WebEx, GoToMeeting, QuickTime Player and other remote application sharing and videoconferencing tools.
Expert review In this method, experts from usability testing specialist companies ascertain the usability of a product. The testing of the product by experts is based on certain usability principles including system status visibility, user control, error prevention, system matching with real world, consistency and standards.
Automated expert review This quick and consistent testing method revolves around the testing of a product based on programs that lay down the rules for good product design and heuristics. For a QA outsourcing company, this method is crucial for testing a product as it underscores an ambitious artificial intelligence (AI) approach in usability testing.
A/B testing This method, also called split testing, involves a comparison of two identical ‘A’ and ‘B’ versions of a product, but with one variation that can potentially effect user behaviour. This testing is mostly carried out in web development and marketing.
Steps for Performing Usability Testing
There are four main steps to perform usability testing:
To create a test plan: A test plan is created for defining the scope of testing, identifying objectives, recruiting users, and establishing metrics.
To facilitate the test: Evaluators employing the usability testing technique should be good facilitators for the test. They should interact effectively with test participants, record the test sessions, and gauge the overall user experience.
To analyze case data: After a testing session, evaluators should analyze the inputs provided by test participants. All the information should then be put together to determine the emerging trends and gain insight into potential problems and their possible solutions.
To prepare test report: Usability testing should be followed by creation of a test report that includes a brief background summary of the test, the testing methodology, test outcomes, findings, and recommendations.
Usability testing is a cost-effective, convenient, accurate, and unbiased technique for examining the user experience of a product or website. It gives the evaluators precise information about what the users do with the product and the reasons behind the actions taken by a user. Based on this pertinent information, designers can benefit immensely from usability testing and create an intuitive and high-quality final product which is well received by targeted consumers. Connect with us for experts to conduct this and other types of testing, to create high impact products.