How and When to Conduct Usability Testing
What does a usability test check? It assesses whether someone can use a product.
And what does ‘usable’ mean? In the broader sense, it means to ensure whether something is working fine: that an individual with average experience and ability can use something – whether it’s a revolving door, a toaster, or a website – for the purpose it was built for without getting irritated.
Here’s an overview of how and when to conduct usability testing.
How to conduct usability testing?
1. Create a hypothesis: Formulate a hypothesis defining what is working fine, what isn’t, and where you can make improvements. Use Google Analytics’ web metrics or any other analytics platforms to identify trends and see where the users are getting stuck.
2. Determine goals for the user test: You want your user test to achieve some objectives, pinpoint them. For example, identifying where people flounder in the ‘add to cart’ process. This step offers you something to measure and investigate. While the preliminary tests would see if the core website tasks are working well, you’ll start conducting more specific tests as you get more granular.
3. Develop a user test script: Next, you’ll want to come up with specific, actionable tests for the user to complete. How? By developing a user test script. Usually, you’ll be testing a primary feature during this test. In order to maintain consistency, keep the order of tasks the same across multiple tests.
4. Ask for a verbal reaction: Qualitative results offer a range of insights or perspectives relating to your test. So, don’t hesitate to ask for a verbal reaction after observing a user complete their task.
a. If this wasn’t a test, would you be able to finish this task?
b. How was this different from your expectations?
c. On a scale of 10, how much would you rate this website or application?
5. Compile your results: Now recap by answering the following questions:
a. What are the main points to consider and what are the action items?
b. What are the main insights revealed from your user tests?
c. What would you like to fix before running your next user tests?
When to conduct usability testing?
The short answer is: periodically during the product cycle. For example:
When developing a concept (you can also test the websites or apps of competitors, or low-effort paper prototypes, there’s no limit)
Supporting some peculiar quantitative data
Starting a project, especially when you want to rethink or improve an existing solution
Redesign or UX (user experience) design stage
Make usability testing a recurring activity in your design lifecycle. Don’t just conduct it once and be done with it, do it multiple times at every stage of the product cycle.
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