Usability testing helps organizations assess and evaluate an application or website on how well it’s perceived by users in terms of functionality and UX design. It measures the feedback of real end users in real scenarios to understand how well they believe the application is performing to meet their needs.
Also known as design testing, product testing, user testing, design validation, etc., usability testing is the core of the application design ideology because when executed with Accessibility Testing and A/B Testing, it can give a true sense of overall application usability. It does so by determining usability issues and identifying user satisfaction factors, by gathering and evaluating significant user interaction data, such as the time users spend on a page, how easy it was for them to navigate through the application, how many users uninstalled the app after using it once, etc.
To have a successful usability testing strategy, organizations give the application to users who’ve never seen it to gather a detailed review on their thoughts while using it. Then, those organizations enable the web and mobile application users to report their actions, the time lapse for how long each action took, thoughts at each point, etc. Finally, their testing team analyzes those data points to understand and effectively improve application usability.
Why is usability testing important?
Applications need to be user-friendly to garner users’ attention, help them achieve their goals and ultimately continue to use the software. Usability Testing helps in all aspects of this cycle.
Some detailed benefits to performing comprehensive usability testing include:
- Decreased user training and support cost
- Increased customer retention and satisfaction
- Reduced development time and costs if done early in the development cycle
- Insights on the most crucial features from the end user perspective
- Insights into usability issues not considered during design phase
Organizations also can receive deeper insights from usability testing by combining it with accessibility testing which categorizes users based on gender, age, group, disability, etc., and combines the data for each user category with other analytics. This helps ensure the usability of the application is aligned to each of these user group’s needs.
Further, organizations also can use usability testing with A/B testing to gain additional insights. A/B testing offers a comparison test of the same functionality in more than one UX design. The effectiveness of the change can be compared through Google Analytics. This can help organizations determine if users prefer if an application shows reviews on the same page or allows navigation to the new page.
Detailed questions organizations should ask to gain the most from usability testing include:
- How fast and easily can various tasks can be accomplished?
- Is the UX design of the application better than similar apps?
- Is the application supported on common platforms—both desktop and mobile?
- Is the end user satisfied enough to use the application again?
Usability testing methods
With so many possible benefits, it’s crucial that organizations plan thorough usability testing for each of their applications. The following schematic depicts the typical usability testing process:
There are three main methods for usability testing—moderated in-person, controlled online testing and uncontrolled online testing. The image and below further depicts each method.
Some of the pros and cons of each method are described in the graph below:
The right time for usability testing
Insights collected from usability testing are invaluable to determine how applications are meeting expectations. But when is the right time to execute usability testing?
It’s ideal for testing to be performed throughout the entire application development cycle to get the most successful outcome. For example, it should be performed in the:
- Initial phase – As requirements arise for a new system or an existing application, it’s beneficial to consult end users to determine any pain points or suggestions for improvements.
- Development phase– At this point, end users can share their experiences with a prototype and to enable organizations to incorporate any necessary changes early in the development cycle. Also, it’s helpful if different sets of end users interact with the application during this phase to get more suggestions and feedback for improvement
- End phase– If users are given access to the final product before release, their experiences can ensure the success of the product. Also, this will help uncover any issues that may have slipped earlier.
Usability testing is a crucial component in application design and development. Organizations should involve testing experts who can review app designs from an end user perspective to ensure they are alligned to project goals and objectives.
That's where Emtec can help. If your organization is looking to improve usability testing for your applications, contact us today!