In conclusion, UX researchers rely on this well-known observational approach to find design problems and opportunities for change.
Usability testing is now routine within the field of UX research.
Researchers (the “facilitator” or “moderator”) conduct usability testing by having participants complete a series of tasks designed to gauge their satisfaction with a product’s user interface. As the subject performs each task, the researcher keeps careful track of their progress.
The terms “usability testing” and “user testing” are often used interchangeably, but they refer to the same thing.
(There has been backlash against the phrase “user testing” on the grounds that it gives the impression that researchers are assessing the participant while, in reality, we are only assessing the interface. But the word alludes to consumer testing, which is the bread and butter of empirical studies.
Why Usability Test?
While the particular objectives of each given usability study may vary, most have the following characteristics:
- A method of determining where the plans for a product went awry.
- Identifying potential growth areas.
- Investigating the customs and routines of the target demographic.
Justify the need for usability testing. Do you not think a professional UX designer could make a good UI for you? Without iterative design guided by observations of real people and their interactions with the design, not even the finest UX designers can build a perfect — or even good enough — user experience.
The human brain is even more complex than the most advanced user interface. There is a massive amount of conceivable combinations. It’s impossible to create a satisfying user interface without first putting it through rigorous testing.
Elements of Usability Testing
The three most crucial components of a usability test are the facilitator, the tasks, and the participant.
Assignments are given to the participants by the facilitator. As the activities are completed, the facilitator observes and provides feedback. The facilitator may further question the individual to elicit additional information.
The examinee is guided through the test by the facilitator. She explains the process, answers any questions the patient may have, and then asks follow-up questions to ensure she has understood correctly.
To ensure accurate data collection, it is the facilitator’s responsibility to avoid influencing the participant’s test performance in any way. Finding that sweet spot requires some exercise.
(In remote unmoderated testing, a subtype of remote usability testing, an app could stand in for a facilitator.)
Usability testing involves having participants do realistic, everyday tasks. Usability tests can be very specific or very general, depending on their purpose and the questions they ask.
Listed below are some examples of real-world usability testing tasks:
- Error 5200 is displayed on your printer’s control panel. What should you do if you find an error and want to fix it?
- You’re considering opening a new credit card account with Wells Fargo. Do some research at wellsfargo.com to determine if you want to open a new credit card account.
- In order to complete this project, the Project Management Office requests that you get in touch with Tyler Smith. Look for them in the company’s private network. Don’t forget to tell the police what you think happened.
Usability testing relies heavily on accurate task language. The psychological phenomena of priming can affect a participant’s performance on a task, and unclear instructions might lead to misunderstanding.
The task’s instructions could be read aloud by the facilitator or written down on paper. Participant reading aloud of the task instructions is a regular technique. This helps researchers keep track of important details and guarantees that the participant has read and understood the instructions.
Someone who actually makes use of the service or product in question would be great as a participant. This may suggest that the product is being put to good use. Even though he isn’t currently utilising the product, the participant may share similar experiences or requirements as the product’s ideal customer.
Usability testing frequently requires respondents to provide written or oral feedback (a technique known as the “think-aloud method”). The leader may want the team to maintain a running commentary on their current tasks. We hope that by using this approach, we will be able to better understand the participants’ activities, goals, mental processes, and motivations.
Types of Usability Testing
Qualitative vs. Quantitative
The usability testing process can be either qualitative or quantitative.
Users and customers’ feedback is gathered during qualitative usability testing. QUT is the gold standard for discovering UX problems. As opposed to the more scientific quantitative method, this is the type of usability testing that usually occurs.
Gathering data that is reflective of the user experience is the primary focus of quantitative usability testing. Data on how quickly and how long activities are completed is a common quantitative metric for usability assessment. Quantitative usability testing is the method you use if you need to collect data.
How many users should take part in a usability study? That is dependant on the specifics of the study being undertaken. Regular qualitative usability testing with a single user group indicated that five people were sufficient to identify the great majority of the most pervasive issues with the product.
Remote vs. In-Person Testing
When compared to in-person user testing, remote testing saves a lot of money and is therefore often used. The usability testing can be conducted remotely, both moderated and unmoderated.
Virtual usability testing with a moderator is very similar to in-person research. The facilitator maintains contact and provides the participant tasks to complete. However, the classroom and the school are not in the same location. Moderated tests are typically given via screen-sharing software like Skype or GoToMeeting.
Unmoderated remote usability testing, on the other hand, lacks the interaction between the test’s facilitator and participants that is present in in-person or moderated tests. Participants are given writing tasks to complete via remote internet testing software by the study’s researcher. After that, the student completes the tasks at her own pace and at her own time. The instructions for the work and any subsequent questions will be presented to you by the testing software. After the participant completes the test, a recording of the session and statistics on the participant’s performance on the tasks will be sent to the researcher.
Cost of Usability Testing
A modest “discount” usability research may only require a few hundred dollars in incentives to participants. Assuming you know what you’re doing and can find volunteers, even the simplest study only requires a conference room for the testing session and three days of your time.
- Study preparation begins on Day 1.
- On Day 2, we’ll put these five users through their paces.
- On day three, you’ll examine the data and turn it into suggestions on how to improve the redesign for the following round.
There are times, however, when a more thorough investigation is required, and the cost of such an investigation can easily go into the hundreds of thousands.
Consider the following contributors to rising costs:
- Comparative analysis of a number of different layouts.
- research and development at a number of worldwide locations.
- establishing a battery of tests using fictitious “personas”
- Quantitative studies are conducted.
- The use of high-tech instruments like eye trackers to provide a comprehensive report detailing the results requires the use of a genuine usability lab or focus group room to permit others to see.
The return on investment (ROI) for advanced studies is typically lower than that of simple ones.
Printable Usability Testing Poster
You can print out a poster with information about usability testing if you like (available below for your preferred size printer paper: A4 size or US letter size, or you can scale the printout for bigger sheets).