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Step by Step Guide for Usability Testing

  • Vrinda Mathur
  • May 12, 2022
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Usability testing is a technique for determining the ease of use of a website, application, or other product. Researchers, Usability testing  designers, and developers can use usability testing to: 


  • Examine the overall performance of the prototype.


  • Find out how satisfied the consumer is with the product.


  • Find out what's causing the difficulties and what's causing them.


  • Create recommendations for resolving the issues and improving the product further.


What is Usability Testing?


Usability testing is an important form of software testing approach that falls under non-functional testing. It is most commonly used in user-centered interaction design to test the usability or ease of use of a software product. Because usability testing is thorough, it necessitates a grasp of the program. 


Usability testing is often conducted from the perspective of the end user to determine whether or not the system is functioning properly. It involves having actual people engage with a website, app, or other product that you've created and analyzing their behavior and reactions to it. 


Whether you start small by watching session records or go all out and hire a lab with eye-tracking equipment, usability testing is a must to ensure you construct an effective, efficient, and delightful experience for your users.


The major goal of doing usability testing is to ensure that the application is simple to use for the end-user who is supposed to utilize it while meeting the client's defined functional and business objectives.


When we utilize usability testing, we ensure that the generated software is simple to use and that the end-life user's is made simpler. In other words, usability testing is one of the unique testing approaches used to discover flaws in software product end-user communication. That is why it is often referred to as User Experience Testing 


It assists us in resolving a variety of usability issues in a certain website or application, as well as ensuring its perfection and performance.


Usability testing verifies all of a product's vital characteristics, from evaluating the ease of browsing a website to validating its flow and content in order to provide the ideal user experience.


Usability testing is often performed by real-life users rather than the development team, as we are already aware that the development team is the one that produced the product. As a result, they miss the more minor faults or issues connected to the user experience.


Also Read | Software Metrics: Classification and Guidelines


Why is Usability Testing Important


Usability testing is performed by real-life users, who are more likely to expose difficulties that individuals who are familiar with a website are no longer able to identify—in-depth knowledge may frequently blind designers, marketers, and product owners to a website's usability issues.


Bringing in fresh users to test your site and/or monitoring how actual people use it are both useful means of determining whether your visitors:


  • Understand how your site operates so that you don't get 'lost' or confused.


  • Can carry out the primary tasks that must be carried out


  • There should be no usability issues or glitches.


  • Have a useful and efficient experience.


  • Take note of any additional usability issues.


This form of user research is especially critical when developing new products or making design changes: without it, you may be trapped with a UX design process that your team members understand but your target audience does not.


Usability testing, if done correctly, at the appropriate time, with the right people decreases the chance of creating the wrong product, saving time, money, and other valuable resources. In other words, if done early on, while the product is in the paper prototype stage, it discovers flaws when they are simple and inexpensive to correct. 


When performed on a mature product, it aids in understanding the user's success rate and time spent completing a job. There have been hundreds of thousands of situations when usability testing has shown to be a worthwhile activity in terms of ROI. 


Also Read | UI Vs UX



Step by Step Guide For Usability Testing


Now that we've proven the need for usability testing, let's delve deeper into steps to carry out usability testing. A typical usability test, like a scientific lab test, follows a rigorous procedure of designing, recruiting participants, performing the tests, evaluating data, and reporting your findings.

Steps for Usability Testing :-1. Plan for your test 2. Establish Objectives 3. Find the Ideal People for the test 4. Run a Beta Test 5. Keep Detailed Reports of the test 6. Analysis and Repeat

Steps for Usability Testing


  1. Plan for your Test


A good plan is required for effective usability testing. To set your test goals, you will collaborate with stakeholders such as the client, product manager, engineering team, marketing, and so on. 


The more specific your goal, the better the outcome. If you are revamping an e-commerce website, for example, you may evaluate the usability and satisfaction of the revised buy flow.

While the overall test objective may be vague, creating a sequence of 5-10 user activities to be completed will allow you to analyze interface interaction with actual actions. In the case of an e-commerce site redesign, you may delegate activities that allow you to watch how people browse the site, locate certain goods, and so on.


Once you've created a list of tasks to test, it's necessary to create metrics to measure the success and failures of how users complete these tasks. First, you must define what constitutes a critical error and what constitutes a non-critical error, as well as what constitutes successful completion of each assignment. 


Make a space in the test plan for each user to log errors and completion so that you may examine the completion rate and error frequency at the conclusion of the test.



  1. Establish Objectives


While you're deciding which testing method is ideal for you, it's a good idea to outline your goals in usability testing. This will have an influence on the ultimate decision of your usability testing technique.


You must first establish a number of objectives before proceeding with the development of the exam. Answer the following questions to get a sense of where you wish to go:


  • What is the demographic of your intended audience?
  • How many people will be involved in the testing?
  • What kind of incentive will you provide to participants?
  • What characteristics will your tests look for?
  • What type of feedback produces good results?


Define your target demographic so that you can locate testers who are a good fit for your product. This method is significantly easier if you're revamping because you already have customer experience.


When it comes to testing size, the more individuals that participate in the process, the better the outcomes. However, don't forget to add specific directions for participants to follow.



  1. Find the Ideal People to Test With


Identifying your target demographic is the first step in hiring the correct users. For example, not everyone is the target customer for an online toy retailer. 


This stage is slightly easier for corporate products because the target audience is already specified, and all you need to do is select a solid mix of users to recruit for testing. However, for corporate products, there may be several user groups. As a result, it is critical that you recruit from each set, or as many as feasible.


It is critical that the users you recruit have a connection to the problems you are attempting to tackle. To do this, make certain that no one working on the project is hired as a user. This ensures that users aren't biased against or in favor of a certain feature or page.



  1. Run a Beta Test First


After you've finished everything, run your script by a few individuals. Before you begin the main testing campaign, you'll uncover all of the minor issues that need to be addressed. Request assistance from your friends and coworkers. It's the most efficient approach to complete the test fast and collaborate with expert individuals.


When you've found your beta testers, walk them through each stage of your usability test. Take note of the following:


  • The clarity of the instructions: Make sure that all of the directions are simple to follow. Request that your pilot test participants provide comments on the instructions. If there are any ambiguities, reformulate them for greater clarity.


  • Bugs that might occur: Ascertain that the functionalities under test are completely functional. A glitch or bug will perplex the tester.


  • Duration of time: Is the length of your usability test as you intended? If you say the testing will last an hour, be sure it doesn't go over that time.


After a number of trial runs, you'll be ready for bug-free usability testing.


  1. Keep Detailed Records of the Tests


The tests will be useless if they are not meticulously documented. When you've finished the tests, assemble the findings for analysis. Use predefined forms to summarize your findings. To fill any gaps in your results, go to the test recordings. Because you have already covered the formats and techniques for the documentation, this stage will arise organically throughout the testing process.


  1. Analysis and Repeat


Work with your designers and/or product managers to examine the outcomes of your tests. Keep an open mind when taking the exam because some of the results may be absolutely contrary to your assumptions. That is the purpose of user testing; don't become overly tied to the design. 


Improve depending on the test findings and comments. In your reports, you may emphasize the issues that arise during testing and utilize them as a starting point for future releases.


It is critical that you run usability testing on a regular basis in order to get the most benefits from the entire process. Usability testing may be fairly simple to set up and integrate into your development cycle if you prepare ahead of time and plan for contingencies.


Also Read | Stress Testing





With the broad adoption of the user-centric design philosophy, assessing designs with users is becoming increasingly important in assuring the success of the product experience. Usability testing is a tried-and-true approach for directly incorporating users in the evaluation of designs. 


It goes beyond merely asking individuals if they understand the system and investigates possible problems with the system's usability. Simply said, usability testing assists you in identifying enhancements that will ensure your items' usability is top notch.


People say one thing and do another, according to common sense. This is particularly true in primary research, such as user surveys and interviews, where self-reported statements are frequently distorted or biased. 


Usability tests try to analyze user behavior without involving the user in any way. Subtle clues including facial expressions, body language, and implicit emotional reactions are recorded. It employs the typical observatory technique used in scientific labs.


Creating a practical usability test takes time and careful planning. However, the advantages enable organizations to develop products that operate admirably from the start.


To get the best results from your usability testing, follow the steps outlined above. Keep in mind to be meticulous at every stage of the procedure. You'll receive the finest outcomes this way.

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