No matter how effectively you’ve built your website, app, or software, issues can arise over time. It’s up to you to spot these problems and rectify them quickly. Otherwise, your users won’t be very happy!
Did you know that users will find 85% of usability issues if they test continuously? This statistic alone is compelling enough to show why usability testing is critical. If you don’t test your website or application, issues will continue to happen, disappointing customers and disrupting potential conversions.
With that being said, below, we’ll take a further look at usability testing and when you should implement it.
What is usability testing?
A usability test involves testing your product with real people to discover whether it works as you intend it to. You’ll get the person to carry out a number of tasks, and you’ll make a note of their interactions. The aim is to understand if your design is intuitive and usable enough for users to achieve their goals.
Different types of usability testing
There’s no universal usability test. In fact, there are many types of usability testing, including:
In-person OR remote tests
You may need to carry out an in-person test for physical products, yet remote tests usually suffice for e-commerce websites and software.
Unmoderated OR moderated tests
The only difference between both tests is whether there is a moderator/facilitator.
Quantitative OR qualitative tests Quantitative research focuses on statistics and numbers to answer the following:
Qualitative research uses meaning and words to uncover the ‘why.’
When should you carry out a usability test?
Now you know what a usability test is and the different options available, you must figure out when to perform these tests. Rather than carrying out usability tests on a periodic basis, it makes more sense to conduct these tests at certain stages throughout a project. This includes the following:
During situations where there is low certainty and high risk
If there is any uncertainty in the design process, organizing a usability test is a great way of getting the answers you need.
There are many different ways uncertainty can manifest itself amongst your team or during a project. For example, an executive may have made a request that seems absurd to the team and has no chance of being effective. Alternatively, there may be disagreements amongst project members, which can cause uncertainty. These are just two examples of many.
Rather than wasting your time and energy going back and forward, it’s best to rely on high-quality data and analysis to make your decision. So, base your next steps on user research. This can help you to make more intelligent and informed decisions so the cloud of uncertainty disappears.
When you need to assess and iterate User research for a project is generally split into two categories; generative research and evaluative research.
Generative research helps you in defining product ideas and issues potential customers face. You do this at the very beginning of a projects
Evaluative research gives you feedback on how something is performing, such as your prototype. It’s beneficial if you want to find out more about a current product that you must redesign. After you’ve created a prototype or wireframe, and you’ve made some design decisions, you’ve moved into the evaluative phase.
At this stage, it makes sense to carry out behavioural research and user testing to get feedback on your design. The benefit here is you can make changes before you move on to a later part of the product process, which can save you an awful amount of time and money.
Before making design decisions
If you carry out a usability test before you make any design decisions, it gives you the ability to determine the most vital user pain points. Sadly, though, this is where a lot of designers skip user testing. Big mistake!
When you observe how a user behaves, you can discover latent needs they may not articulate during surveys or interviews.
If you’re embarking on a re-design project, this process can be as straightforward as simply viewing how someone interacts with the current version of your software or website.
However, if you’ve not yet created your own product, you’ll need to assess how someone interacts with the competition.
After you have launched your product
Not only do you need to perform usability testing before you make any design decisions and during the prototyping phase, but you need to continue carrying out these tests once your product has been launched.
After all, there’s an argument to say a design is never really ‘finished.’
You can always enhance something. You can also make it better for the end user. This is why the best businesses don’t simply create something, forget about it, and move on to the next. Instead, they continue to perform usability tests so they can continue to wow their customers and do better.
You can’t afford to slack when it comes to usability
So there you have it: everything you need to know about usability testing and when to perform it. Usability testing is an efficient and effective approach to unearthing issues so you can rectify them quickly and successfully, ensuring your business doesn’t suffer.
Don’t forget; it’s not a one-time thing! Usability tests need to be carried out on a regular basis to ensure your business stands out from the competition.