What is usability testing?
Usability testing tests how easy a product is to understand and use. Usability testing can be used for software, websites, and everyday objects. Usability testing is crucial because it can help make products user-friendly and increase sales, making the customer happier.
There are two common ways usability testing is performed:
- User Testing: Includes testing real users and seeing how they interact with your product or service. User testing is done in person but can also be conducted online.
- Expert Testing: Testing experts in a specific field to receive their opinion about a product or service. Expert testing is most commonly performed when users want to test products before they go public.
Usability testing is mainly used during the product development phase.
Why do you need usability testing?
Usability testing allows users to distinguish how easy a product or service is to use. Testing this out with real users will enable you to identify what needs improvement and what works better. This type of feedback is crucial for making your product user-friendly.
User feedback is a must for all businesses because it allows you to improve your product according to your audience’s needs and wants. Usability testing is the best way to get this feedback, allowing users to see how they interact with your product or service.
This is how usability testing helps identify UX issues
Usability testing is used for assessing the functionality of a product’s interface. Out of the many user experience research methods. Nowadays, most business industries operate online and keep on growing.
Currently, there are around 24 million eCommerce sites across the globe and this number is growing every day. Therefore, it’s a must to ensure your website and app are correctly functioning, so users can easily find what they need.
Usability testing allows users to determine whether they are reaching their primary goal and finding important information on the app or website.
User interaction with a digital product all depends on usability testing, meaning that users should be able to find anything they need without any help in a short period of time.
7 Benefits of usability testing
1. It saves you time and resources
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Conducting usability testing allows you to verify application functions, features and accessibility rates. The more information you gather from users, the better you can improve product experiences. While many may think that’s the only benefit of collecting data through usability testing, there’s another benefit.
It’s the fact that usability testing saves you time and resources. Instead of wasting time on adjustments, usability testing allows you to get straight to the point.
For example, if you just launched a new app, you most likely invested plenty of money and time creating this app. However, what would happen if your customers were to think differently? What if they want extra features that you don’t offer?
There are many things to consider here and launching a product that isn’t user-tested is never a smart move. Testing before launching a product will save you both money and time compared to trying to fix issues after the product launches.
2. Promotes ease of use
All users want to use simple applications that are clear and easy to use. Nobody likes to use applications that are complicated to learn. Even if users find it easy to engage with your app, you need to learn how to use it quickly.
Taking the right steps allows you to see how many steps a user needs to fulfill their goal. Usability testing shows users how long it takes to master those steps. By identifying the issues you need to address, your user experience can be much better than you think.
3. Gives you a competitive advantage
In today’s modern competitive world, having an average product or service won’t do the trick. Always remember that competitors are only a click away from having something more than you.
When you can deliver an outstanding user experience, you are distinguishing yourself from your competitors and giving your business a significant advantage within the industry.
Usability testing is what makes teams better at what they do by improving their decision-making design. Users are looking for interactions that meet their needs and don’t have the patience to stick around to discover what you are offering them. Many options are available, so don’t think they can’t reconsider their options.
Usability testing ensures that all efforts need to go to your website and ensure they aren’t lost. It shows the improvements that need to be made to your product, but it can also be used for analyzing your competitors and learning the shortcut to success.
All large brands worldwide use usability testing, such as Google, Amazon, and more. Usability testing showed these brands that understanding your users needs to ensure they understand their actions for their product or service.
4. Guarantees product success
In addition to improving your product’s quality regarding its features and functionality, usability testing shows your product's success level and how well your product is expected to do in the future.
It lets you see whether your product is worth it for your customers. Let’s not forget how much time you save when you see uprising problems before they become even more problematic.
Currently, we might not know anyone who doesn’t have a mobile phone and even though statistics show that 83% of the world population owns a smartphone, we think it’s more than that! If your product is challenging to understand or doesn’t address anybody's needs, nobody will consider buying it.
By evaluating your product's simplicity, you’ll get a better idea of its popularity. You’ll get a chance to learn how your app operates and what your audience expects from you and wants.
This is a crucial part of the development phase of your apps since the data you are collecting comes directly from the user. Overall, usability testing aims to help you build an app or product that users will find helpful.
5. Keeps your customers happy
Another benefit of user testing is seeing how satisfied your customers are. Satisfaction isn’t only dependent on one factor; most customers are looking for a solution to fix their everyday issues and increase productivity levels.
Discovering how satisfied your customers are when using your product is the key to attracting new users and turning them into long-term customers.
Small errors in a user experience, such as a defective dashboard, a steep learning curve and more, will make it more difficult for users to learn about your product. This will later lead to more frustrations and cause bigger problems.
It’s always important to hear your users' thoughts and opinions. Emotions are important when it comes to using a product. Once you identify what type of emotion the consumer gets when using your product, you’ll know more about how they feel about it.
6. Allows you to collect unbiased data
The good side of collecting information with usability testing is how unbiased data is. It’s not the same story as when you collect information by asking others.
Additionally, you won't gather the right amount of data if you try to test your product without the right target audience.
Usability testing offers unbiased and precise data on how your app is supposed to work and what your users might need. Many of these tests are anonymous, so people will feel much more comfortable giving you the correct answer than if they knew who was giving the answers.
7. Reduces development costs
User testing is worth the while, so some of the primary advantages you get from conducting user research is the amount of money you save during the development phase. Like in any other business, time and money are what most businesses focus on during the product development phase.
Research shows that programmers spend 32 hours from a 40-hour workweek trying to fix errors during the product development phase. These errors will usually occur after the product is launched.
Since the product is already launched, it might be a problem to fix errors because they aren’t only time-consuming and costly. Especially when you need to rework the product.
Redesigning a product is the worst thing that can happen. For example, it’s the same if you set up an online store. Creating the online store is costly enough, let alone having to fix errors after the launch date.
All users who purchase from your online shop will be concerned about making the purchase as quickly as possible, consuming as little time as possible.
However, suppose you don’t understand how your customers are behaving or what kind of attitude they have towards your online store. In that case, you’ll have incomplete information, which might result in a defective product.
Redesigning your product will save resources, especially when you need more time. After all, fixing errors after product launch will be multiple times more costly than during the development phase!
5 Steps to follow for conducting usability testing
1. Plan everything out
Planning your usability testing sessions is highly important. In several ways, it’s probably an essential part of the entire process. All decisions you make during the testing process will highly dictate the way you proceed further after the product is launched.
During your planning phase, identify the following:
- The problems you want to solve during your test.
- The types of users you want to test. It’s best to create user personas to narrow your audience.
- Write down all the questions you want to ask your users about your website. What are you trying to learn from users?
2. Recruit participants
Recruiting participants will depend on what kind of goals you have. For example, how long you want your sessions to be or how much information you want to gather, depending on your budget.
The most straightforward way to hire participants for your research is to do the following:
- Hire a recruiting agency. Hiring a recruitment agency isn't a bad idea if you want to save time and get straight to the point.
- Try using your website and recruit users from there.
- Recruit people from social media.
- Try reaching out to users directly by email or creating surveys.
3. Design your tasks
Once you’ve set up your plan and worked out why and how you’ll conduct your research, it’s time to make a participation confirmation and design the test itself.
This means that you should carefully plan and recruit your participants. For example, if you sell clothes in your online shop, you can create the following scenario.
You are invited to an event but must wear blue clothing. Everybody at the event has blue clothing, but unluckily, while looking at your wardrobe, you find out that you don’t have any blue clothing. Now, it’s time to buy something.
How do you handle this? Your participants will go to your website and find out that you offer a filter for “blue.” Therefore, they can find blue clothing much easier than by manually searching your website.
4. Run the session
When you start to run the session, you can start collecting vital information and here’s how you do so:
- Collect pre-testing data: Collect psychographic and demographic information by answering specific questions. These questions include: The last time consumers shopped online, how often they bought from your store in the past half year, how they found products they wanted, what is the case that influences their buying decision, and more.
- Test participants in the first task: This is the stage where you start to realize if your participants are getting frustrated. Here, you can distinguish how long it takes participants to complete a task. Therefore, you can investigate what participants did and how they did it.
- Take notes: It’s never wrong to take notes during a session. You need to be entirely focused on the participants, so you can go back and see what went wrong and what did not.
5. Analyze your insights
After you’ve collected data, it’s time to analyze this data and come to a conclusion. You need to do this as soon as possible and come to a conclusion because your observations are fresh.
As you go through your observations, prioritize what the issues are and what needs to be resolved.
5 Usability testing tools you can use
Maze is an excellent usability testing platform for collecting and consuming user insights. Maze easily integrates with Sketch, Adobe, Figma, and other popular platforms, allowing you to import a prototype from the design tool you are using.
Maze allows you to run a quantitative and qualitative usability test, sharing tests with your participants via link. It offers usability testing solutions such as A/B testing, guerilla testing, heatmaps, and more.
Maze gives you the chance to collect feedback and research surveys earlier in the design process. Additionally, it offers usability testing templates for your premade questions and tasks added to your test.
The pricing plan with Maze starts at $25 per user per month. If you choose to use the free plan, you can run up to one usability testing project.
Lookback is a user experience (UX) recording tool used for designers and product managers that want to see how users interact with an application.
Lookback’s testing tool allows you to see what users see in a recording, in person, and in real-time. Recordings will automatically appear in your dashboard, so you can organize them into groups and create highlights for your team.
Lookback offers a 14-day free trial, and pricing plans begin at $99 per month per team.
UserTesting offers many customer experience solutions for marketers, product managers and designers. The platform allows you to analyze how customers interact with an application and website.
UserTesting offers several features, such as Product Insights, pre-formatted tests, and more. There’s another Marketing Insight that helps you create more optimized marketing campaigns and content for your customers.
Pricing with UserTesting isn’t publicly available, so you’ll need to sign up for a free trial to see if it’s the right fit for you or not.
UsabilityHub is a remote research platform that allows you to run different research tests and identify all usability issues included in them.
UsabilityHub is a well-known platform because of the range of tests it allows you to run. The platform allows you to set up first-click tests, five-second tests and more.
Additionally, it has built-in participants with more than 170,000 testers available. However, don’t worry, because you can also invite your own participants to the test.
UsabilityHub is mainly known for its key features, which are:
- Five-second tests
- Preference tests
If you subscribe to their free plan, you can run free tests or upgrade it to the paid plan, which starts from $79 per month and has a discount of $66 per month if you choose to subscribe annually.
Userfeel is a usability testing platform that allows you to record videos of users completing their tasks in real time. It allows you to set up tasks to complete for tests on your website, defining the target audience and collecting recorded videos of users.
The platform offers testing in more than 40 languages on mobile and desktop. There are around 90,000 users and you can filter all of these testers based on their country, language, age and more.
Key features with Userfeel include both usability scores and screen recording.
Pricing with Userfeel begins at $59 per credit. One credit grants you access to a 1-hour unmoderated test with your users and a 20-minute unmoderated test with the platform’s users.
Mistakes to avoid when conducting usability testing
Usability testing has its downfalls and many issues might occur when you conduct it.
However, we’ve devised a few common mistakes to avoid when conducting usability testing to make things easier for you.
- Failing to ask the right questions: A common mistake amongst almost everyone. Focus on your target audience and ask them general questions, such as What they think of your website, product, service, and more. Otherwise, you won’t get a detailed response on what improvements you need to make with your design
- Testing the wrong people: Ensure you are testing the people in your target area. Testing the wrong users won’t give you the information you want.
- Not conducting enough tests: Usability testing is ongoing, and it’s important to test early before product launch to get the most accurate results possible. Only conducting a usability test once or twice is never enough.
- Failing to analyze results: After you conduct usability tests, it’s time to analyze your results. This helps you know what areas to improve your application or app.
- Failing to make changes based on results: Once you’ve analyzed usability test results, you need to make changes to your design based on the results you receive. Don’t leave it behind, thinking you shouldn’t make any changes. This isn’t a smart practice and might result in your app or website not being so user-friendly.
We finally understood the entire point of usability testing and why it’s so important for ensuring the success of your online business. While many business owners won’t care much about usability testing, they’ll see the issues rise after product launch.
This isn’t something you want to happen. It’s too much to waste time and resources after the product launch. Figuring everything out earlier in the product development phase because there’s more room to make significant improvements.