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Today we are all users of many different software products, websites and applications. We all know the frustration of trying to stumble through poorly designed, clunky user interfaces. We also how easily they can make us rage-quit them after the first few tries. From these experiences we all know why usability testing is important, but to understand the whole process, we need to start right from the beginning.
Usability testing involves observing and recording the behavior of test subjects who are assigned to complete a set of tasks on your app, website, or other software product. The testing helps you to know whether your site works and how to improve it.
There are some elements involved in the usability testing process. These are:
Participant: The participant will perform the activities for which you want to test your software.
Usability tester: The job of the usability tester is to explain the participants their role and the tasks they have to complete during the test, and pay them when they finish their task.
Shared screen: Screen sharing software can make the test much more effective. You can easily include the product team into the usability test without stressing the participant. Further, executives will get to know how users see the product or company website.
Recording software: With recording software, you can record the test and analyze it later. It allows the usability tester to focus more on the testing process.
Pre-written usability testing script: It helps you walk the participants through the test smoothly.
Make the usability test process as time- and cost-efficient as you can by planning each step of the process in detail. Keep in mind that a detailed script will help the tester to effectively explain the tasks and process to the participant. Most importantly, users should know that they are not being tested, you are testing the software.
The usability tester should not influence the user’s actions in any way. They have to solve their problems and find the solutions on their own. The main work of the usability tester is to provide information about the tasks and the usability testing process. He or she should encourage the participants to actively share their opinions and thoughts. Participants need to be vocal about their thoughts.
Know that the participants may feel frustrated when they are not able to find the solutions right away. When the users reach a level of frustration where they want to leave your website and search elsewhere for solutions, your site fails the test.
Have a meeting with the responsible team after the usability test. Based on the results of the usability test, choose the top three problems that need to be addressed. You need to resolve these issues this month and after one month, repeat the complete process.
Is there a difference between usability testing and user testing?
Sometimes, usability testing is confused with user testing. Usability testing and user testing are two different approaches to reaching different goals. User testing involves interviewing your target audience to determine market demand for your service or product.
Usability testing is also different from focus group testing. In focus group testing, you learn about the experiences and opinions of a group of users regarding your website or product.
Usability testing, on the other hand, is more about seeing if users can understand or use your website or product with common sense. You can choose anyone to be a test subject who views your website with a fresh eye and provide useful information about ease of use. Beginning usability testing with your family members and friends is a good way to get a new and fresh perspective.
Tools for Usability Testing
Usability testing tools are essential to the success of your website. Here are some tools that can help you conduct usability tests.
This A/B testing platform allows users to track visits as well as conversions. Optimizely offers many features such as visitor segmentation, mobile website testing, multivariate testing, and cross-browser testing. The basic plan is free of cost. However, if you want some extra features, you need to pay for them.
You can use the tool for 30 days as a free trial, and after that, you have to pay $9 per month. Crazy Egg offers a number of features such as heatmap, scrollmap, confetti, and overlay.
The Heatmap allows you to see where each visitor has clicked on your website. With Scrollmap, you will get to know how far down on the web page a user has scrolled. The Confetti gives you valuable insights regarding visitor sources, search terms etc. The Overlay helps you to know the number of clicks each element on your web page is getting.
UsabilityHub operates this tool. Five Second Test captures a visitor’s first impression of the site. You can run a test in seconds. The process is easy and includes
1. Uploading a mock-up of the web page or uploading a screenshot with a question about the design or functionality included.
2. Five seconds are given to testers to view the web page. After that, they are required to answer the question given.
3. The responses of the testers are then compared.
The paid plans cost about $20 per month.
Now that you have a clear understanding about why usability testing is important, you can make the first steps to integrate it into your development process. There is no such thing as too early to start usability testing. Be it your new website, blog, mobile app, or custom software, it is always recommended to collect first-hand information about the way the end user sees your platforms as soon as possible.
Thanks for reading!
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RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.
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