The first rule for designers and developers is “Remember, you are not a user”.
Usually, when the team starts working on a project, they have some hypotheses and background knowledge, which affect their decision-making. Usability testing is the fastest and most common tool to check these hypotheses. This way, you get feedback from users and focus on actual users' needs. Finally, you come up with the optimal solution.
According to Forbes, for a number of large companies, usability design and UX testing became the best decision and took their business to the next level. The IBM reports prove that, for each dollar invested in usability, you receive from 10 to 100 dollars in return.
Timely testing is the way for you to avoid misunderstandings and save money and time. Just think about it, how many problems you can find with a fresh pair of eyes!
Understand What Is User Testing
The usability test is an iterative process used in user-centered design. It is a method of evaluating the product by testing it on actual users. You ask your target audience to go through your prototype, product, or some functionality of it. Then, you observe the results and gather user feedback. Usually, you should prepare tasks and scenarios for how to conduct user testing.
Choose the Right Usability Test Type
After you have discovered what is usability testing, there is another important factor to consider. What type of usability test are you going to run?
There are several user testing methods you can choose from:
Survey is the approach you employ to gather a lot of information about your users without investing too much time or effort. Create a survey with the help of SurveyMonkey or Google Forms. Send it out to your target audience and wait for their responses. Make sure that the questions you ask a relevant, clear, and simple to answer. Do not make the survey too long and exhausting. And keep your target users in mind when choosing your tone: formalities will not work if you talk to middle-school students, and slang will not work if you talk to large corporations owners. If you are not sure about your users, go with semi-formal language.
A/B testing is the way to choose the best idea out of two. Show each version of the product to an equal number of random users. Then, review analytics on which version was perceived better by users and accomplished a certain goal more effectively. Use A/B if you need to find which design users like best. Also, you should use it to compare a revised screen to the old one. Keep in mind that the versions you present have to be prepared perfectly for the testing not to go in vain. It is not only about your effort. Value the time of your users as well.
Focus groups are one of the most common and popular usability testing methods. Gather a focus group of 6 to 12 users, who will discuss issues and concerns about the product. The user testing process is run by a moderator, whose job is to maintain the group’s focus, and it typically lasts for about 2 hours. Use this approach to discover at once what exactly users want from a product, what they think, how they feel, and what they prefer. The important point to keep in mind is that your focus groups have to be relevant but diverse. You cannot expect a group of middle-age entrepreneurs to fairly assess a software product for young kids. Neither can you show this app only to boys from middle-class families without targeting other groups of children.
Beta testing rests in you showing an almost complete product to your potential users. They will try it out and provide their critical feedback. Ask users questions about the product and their experience with it, see their user story, and have them file bug reports for you. Employ this type of testing if the product is almost ready to see the world, but you want to check with end users before publishing it. A very rough version with only partial functionality or lots of bugs will not work here.
To choose the right option, you need to take into account the following factors:
- How quickly do you need the result?
If you need the results here and now, go with interviews or focus groups. If the results can wait, you can employ surveys or A/B testing.
- What type of information are you looking to obtain?
Surveys will work best among all the usability testing methods if you want to obtain some general user data, like age, gender, occupation. Listen to the story of each user and get their opinion on the quality of the future product.
A/B testing will be the best when designers are struggling to choose between two competing elements or when they want to compare competitors' designs during the research stage. The difficulty is – you have to prepare 2 different options of one product.
Focus groups are the way for you to get instant feedback from users. This is a quick method, which focuses on the number of users and the rapid discussion.
Meanwhile, beta testing works best among other types of user testing if you need to test your nearly completed product to identify critical bugs and gather final feedback.
Draft the Test Plan
Take 5 Easy Steps to Implement Great Testing
Create a test plan and script.
Select users from your target audience (5 users will be enough).
Run the test. Do not forget to record everything you hear from your users.
Analyze case data.
Document the information and create implementation tasks.
The steps seem simple, but there are some user testing tips you should pay attention to.
Define the Area of Focus
It’s important to understand what you are exactly testing and why. You cannot test everything at once. Instead, start with a particular function or screen. Ask your team to indicate the possible problems and "bottlenecks". Based on this, formulate a future scenario – the story that your users have to go through.
Talk to Your Users
The audience wants to feel comfortable during the test. Once you gather your users for a meeting, tell them the purpose of it. Explain that this is just a prototype, not the final version, so they are free to critique it. Also, it is important to clarify that you test a product, not the skills or knowledge of a person. Moreover, we usually ask users to think “out loud”. All you can do is asking questions and listening to the thoughts of the user. Try not to push them, be patient and not biased.
For example, on our latest project, we were lucky to interview the users for whom the product is being developed. We designed an attendance monitoring system, where users would log their working days and hours.
We started user testing with two questions “How did you handle this problem before?” and “What would help you in your workflow now?” Only after that, we presented the prototype and asked to do the same tasks with it. We were surprised when users shared some incredible thoughts with us. One of such insights was that the users usually log their hours after work and use their phones for this. Respectively, it is necessary to focus on the mobile version of the product. Yet, we did not consider this idea before.
Be sure that you have prepared a room for testing. Keep in mind that you may need some extra time if the conversation with the participants drags on. Prepare with your partner if you have one. Ask your colleague to take notes during the session, and do not forget to check if the recorder started. You can always go back, listen to interviews, and look for additional insights. Findings can be documented also in screen grabs and video recordings.
Sort Out Priorities
Do not know where to start – prioritize! Based on the information received, create a Trello board. Create some cards, add a few tags with prioritization, and voila, you have an improvement plan. Get a team, brainstorm the results, and decide which ones to do during the current iteration and which ones to do during the following one. The final part is fixing bugs and enhancing the user experience.
To Wrap Up
This is it! You did a wonderful job. A simple test can identify issues that you did not see before and show the way your users are interacting with your product. At the same time, you may learn about different business opportunities that you did not suspect were there. Learn how does user testing work and how to do user testing. So do not wait! Start user testability, and find the hidden opportunity!
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