What is usability testing?
Usability testing, sometimes referred to as user testing, is a technique where the usability of a product (a piece of software or prototype) is tested among several participants called users. The moderator or facilitator assigns the tasks that users perform using the given product.
While the test is being conducted, the moderator observes the users and learns how they are using the product and listens to their responses while working on the product. The moderator records these observations and builds a report of the usability testing.
Why is usability testing important?
Usability testing helps to improve the usability and user experience of a product in the following ways:
- It identifies the users’ pain points that need a revision in terms of usability
- It provides a list of improvements for consideration
- It gives an idea of user behavior when they are using the product
Skipping the usability testing for a product can lead towards a launch that may not fulfill the user requirements. Usability testing plays an important role in knowing the required improvements that should be made in the product before delivering it to the client.
Six steps to conduct a usability test
To conduct an efficient usability test, a series of steps are required to perform:
- Build product/prototype
- Plan test
- Identify/Recruit participants
- Conduct testing
- Document results
- Prioritize and improve
Build a product/prototype
The first and foremost step to conduct a usability test is to have a product in hand for which you want to run the test. This can be a developed product or an initial prototype that you want to test with your users. In building this product/prototype you must have followed the design process and built it based on the user requirements.
Now when you developed enough functionality, it is good to conduct a usability test to get the user feedback and see whether you are going in the right direction or not.
The next step is to plan the test to be conducted with the users.
- What needs to test: Identify the scenarios and tasks that you need to test with the user. Prepare a list of tasks that the user is going to perform most frequently.
- With whom it is tested: Identify the number and type of users required to conduct the test.
- How it is tested: Decide about the process of testing. Whether you will just observe the users, record their interactions or interview them.
- Where it is tested: Reserve a space or lab for the testing where users can perform the tasks without any interruption.
As per the test plan, find and recruit the participants that will participate in the test as users. These participants can be the actual users who are familiar with the product and will test the new features as per their requirements. Or they can be participants with profiles similar to the actual users.
This is the step when the test is being conducted. The moderator/facilitator makes sure that the necessary equipment is accessible to every user. He/she observes and listens to the users while performing their tasks and lists down the observations. An interview can also be conducted with the users to get their feedback about the product and what more they want to achieve from it.
Document and analyze the results
After the test has been completed, the moderator prepares a report mentioning the observations, recordings and findings collected by the users. The team then analyzes the collected data and identifies the improvement areas that need to be worked on before the final product release.
Improve the product
Now you are done with the testing part and you have a list of improvements that can help you to enhance your product experience. The team needs to prioritize and plan the identified tasks and work on them by following the design process.
The key take away
Do not skip the process of usability testing in a hurry to complete the product work. This step is essential to deliver the product with the confidence that it has already been tested with the actual users and is ready to meet their expectations. Make it an integral part of your development process before launching your product to market.
You need a reliable partner to conduct a usability test? At Fintory, we can support you in integrating usability testing into your product development process. We test user flows, user experience as well as the pixel-perfect implementation of the design. We have already worked together with Coca-Cola and Allianz to optimise their products by effective usability tests. Just contact us and we will find out how we can help you with your project.