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What is Usability Testing, and Why is it Important?

Usability testing is essential for the digital product development process. Through usability testing, it is possible to understand the end-user and determine what elements need improvement. Find out how to do usability testing and why UX is the foundation of a product’s success.

What is usability testing?

Usability testing is a method of testing the functionality of a digital product (app or website). It consists of observing a group of representative users who use the product during the research and perform specific tasks. Usability testing can be carried out many times, from early product development to its release to the market.

The researcher observes the user’s behavior and collects feedback on the product. With usability testing, the researcher can check if a product has any design flaws, what activity was difficult for users, and work on improving the product’s performance.

Why is usability testing necessary?

The goals of usability testing may be different. Depending on the test, they can include:

  • assessing whether users/testers can perform the tasks themselves and correctly,
  • assessment of users’ mental state to the completed tasks,
  • learning about users behavior,
  • assessing whether users like to use our product,
  • identifying the problems that occurred during product testing,
  • finding solutions and improving product performance.

Usability testing types

When assessing user behavior, the type of tests should be selected. Two types of data can be collected during usability testing: qualitative and quantitative.

Qualitative usability testing

Qualitative usability tests monitor users’ reactions (facial expressions, body language, squinting) while using the product. After the test, the user fills in a questionnaire to assess his subjective satisfaction and the level of difficulty of the tasks performed. These tests are suitable for identifying problems in the user’s environment and are more often used than quantitative tests.

Quantitative usability testing

Quantitative usability tests measure the time spent on a given task and analyze success and failure rates. The user’s effort to put into the task (the number of clicks and moments of confusion) is also determined.

Usability testing methods

In-person usability testing

During the in-person survey, the moderator physically observes the user’s behavior. Contextual interviews, focus groups, and eye-tracking can be used within this method.

Remote usability testing

Remote usability testing is the performance of tasks that take place without a moderator. This method is used when the budget for the usability test is small, and we want to get the results as soon as possible.

When developing your product, don’t forget to adjust it to the market. Read our article on product-market fit and learn how to do it.

Good usability testing practices

1. Define what exactly you want to test.

2. Decide how to run usability tests and define their scope.

3. Define tasks to be performed by users and prioritize them.

4. Make sure the tasks have realistic goals.

5. Create scenarios that include realistic actions to be performed. Do not give the user instructions to complete a task; just let the user handle it himself.

6. Recruit testers from your target group. The more people test your product, the more likely it will increase its usefulness and potential.

7. Moderate the research, observe users behavior and interview them.

8. Pay attention to the moments where users feel confused or misinterpret the rules.

9. Ask users how they feel while performing the test and compare it with the usability assumptions of the project.

Better UX is a foundation of a product’s success

For a product to be successful, the focus must be on its usability and the user experience. Usability testing lets you check whether users understand the functions correctly and use the available functionalities properly.

Usability tests allow for a deep analysis of user behavior. Thanks to them, we can examine such aspects as:

  • the attractiveness of the product in relation to the competition,
  • efficiency in achieving the set goals,
  • speed of achieving goals,
  • aesthetics of the product,
  • ease of use and intuitiveness,
  • satisfaction and emotions related to the use of the product.

Usability testing allows you to examine user problems that may arise during interaction with such application elements as search engines, subpages, menus, navigation, search engine, forms, galleries, widgets, product cards, layouts, or information architecture.

Benefits of usability testing

Thanks to this research method, it is possible to quickly improve the operation of a digital product and eliminate problems encountered by testing users when using a website, mobile or web application. Tests can be carried out at every stage of product development, i.e., from mockup and prototype to the final product.

The usability test results allow for the efficient diagnosis of problems that can be eliminated at the design stage. Product perception, user experience, and satisfaction can be improved with usability testing. Confronting the product assumptions with the examination of the actual needs of users allows for a better adjustment of the product to the target group.

In a broader perspective, a well-conducted usability study reduces costs related to customer service and increases customer loyalty to our product. It also has a positive effect on increasing ROI (return on investment).

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