You’ve probably heard that great products have good usability, but what does this really mean? Usability is determined by the evaluation of criteria such as learning ability, efficiency, memory, error management and satisfaction. All these elements can be tested from usability testing.
Usability test is a structured observation of a representative user, performing a certain task within the product or service that will be evaluated. During the test, researchers will watch, listen, and take note of all user actions. In other words, it’s a different technique of qualitative research that gives insight into your product.
The purpose of this exercise is for developers, UX designers and product managers to identify usability issues by looking at the elements mentioned above. If the user can quickly learn how the product or service works, be able to use it effectively, the product or service adapts to changes and meets all needs, it will have a good evaluation.
The usability test is a fundamental tool and should be used whenever possible. The reason is mainly because it helps to identify issues you often did not even know existed about your product.
This is the best way to get into your user’s mind and understand their process and perspective. In addition, it is a low-cost alternative that can be conducted in a relatively short time.
To conduct a usability test, start by identifying the audience. The target audience will consist of one or more user groups. For example, a single website may have consumer content and a separate login website administrator. These two groups of users are likely to perform different tasks as part of the normal use of the site. Each group of users should be given different tasks to perform during the test, reflecting their different usage patterns.
With that in mind, here are five types of usability testing to understand if your product is ready for the market.
The problem-discovery usability test is the most common type of usability study. The goal is to discover (and amend) as many usability issues as possible. Having a few participants trying out real tasks, you may uncover the most common issues.
Problem discovery studies as also called formative studies. Formative it’s a term used to describe a test as a method for diagnosing problem areas in a student’s learning curve. The same idea applies to an interface: from the research, what problems can be found and fixed to build an interface easier to use?
These studies are usually conducted using a modest approach, in which a facilitator can investigate the participant’s actions and utterances to discover problems. You can still conduct a training study using the non-moderate and remote method if participants think aloud and have their screens and webcams recorded to identify expressions.
Problems were encountered, and new designs were created. But a question remains: is the interface now easier to use? How user-friendly is the project? A benchmark study is an appropriate answer to these questions. Measuring the usability of an interface before project changes are made allows you to set a benchmark to compare future projects.
Benchmark data tells you the usability of your website and how users are performing on important tasks. A benchmark result by itself generates a lot of data, but without a comparison to previous benchmark statistics, you keep yourself wondering “Are these results good or bad?” To provide a meaningful comparison, the solution is to ask another group of participants to try the same set of tasks on competing websites or products.
As you are comparing, you will need a larger sample size to detect differences. For this reason, many comparative studies are done using a non-moderate remote approach. You can perform moderate, remote or face-to-face comparative studies. Plan to spend a lot of time on moderation and consider an approach within the subjects (where the same participants try the same tasks on all competitors).
Where people look and click are often similar, but not always the same.
Understanding where the eyes of the participants are attracted by, the design and the sequences of paths to look at can help you to identify what is working and what are the issues with your design. An eye-tracking study is the best way to get these results.
Eye-tracking studies are also time consumers. In addition to the usual time of recruitment and facilitation, you should plan 10 minutes of analysis time for every 1 minute of eye-tracking data collected with participants.
Most usability tests evaluate how the user interacts with the application for the first time. Even when the participant has experience with the interface, the tasks remain unknown at certain level. Consequently, the results will describe the initial use, rather than use over time.
By having the participants trying the same task repeatedly, a study can identify their learning curve. Most studies are focused on gathering performance data, such as task time than initial impressions and problem discovery. However, if participants still encounter problems after repeated testing of the same task (especially after some training), you will have some convincing evidence to fix problems that do not only affect first-time users.
Need to create a user-friendly website with all the usability testing advantages? Contact one of our specialists on Cavaon to create the perfect website.