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Many organizations have invested in usability to improve the performance and user satisfaction of products. Usability gives us a proper knowledge about the user’s environment, helps us to define the user, and find solutions to their specific problems. However, to achieve consistent results with usability, we need to conduct a series of tests called usability testing to identify when and how of our products are not performing as they are intended to. It is always better to spend a little money and energy in the testing process if we don’t want to overrun our re-development, customer support and training costs.
Usable testing attempts to reduce the inefficiencies that may have been experienced by the user in the final execution stage. Before a product is launched, a designer has to select a few participants to test the actual performance of the product. When a designer is not sure whether the design objectives have been met or when a customer faces difficulties in using the product, usability testing becomes the best alternative.
By doing usability testing, you are able to find more information about your customer, mitigate potential issues, evolve your design and save money. Testing is an iterative process; it doesn’t mean you will get it right in the first attempt. But, with a better understanding of the testing process and planning, you can make usability testing an easy task.
As you look for ways to make your product more user-friendly and efficient, you should be able to deeply understand user concerns and usability issues, and become better at correcting them. Usability testing is performed to quickly minimize or eliminate design issues and to ensure the profitability of products. Usability testing is one of the most effective methods to identify usability problems. It is divided into two categories. It can be based on quantitative information such as time on tasks, success and failure rates as well as qualitative information such as user satisfaction, perceived effort or difficulty.
At the beginning, you need to set up realistic goals to support your usability testing process. It’s better to start with questions such as ‘What are you testing?’ ‘Why are you testing?’ ‘How long will the test take?’ and ‘How often will you test?’
As you move forward, you need to gain comprehensive knowledge about the whole product experience. Knowing what you are trying to find out and asking the right questions is an important first step to help you understand patterns, behavior and product usage. To be specific, you can categorize your testing goals into:
1. Relevant product information : Do you know about the history of the product? What are the new features you customers need to know or what are the benefits of using the product?
2. Users : Who are your users? How often they visit the platform? What age groups they belong to? How do they wish to use the product?
3. Success : How do you rate the success of your product? Is it sales, downloads, pageviews, engagement or some other measure? How do you measure engagement? How do you increase sales conversion?
4. Competitors : How do you see your products perform with respect to your competitors? How your customers react to new product launches? How do you plan to better reach out to new users?
5. Research : Which data do you use? Whether the research is based on new or old information? Did you use scientific methods to plan your research?
6. Timeframe : How much time it takes to complete the task? What time-frame you are working with? When is it due?
The main goal of usability testing is to design better products. Imagine that you have sent a flawed product into the market, it can lead to user dissatisfaction and eventually affect you bottom line. When we release a product that is useful, effective, and satisfying, it helps us to strengthen our bonds with our customer. In the design process, we want many things to work as we have planned. But, this is not the case all the time; we have faced many situations where it becomes difficult to manage user expectations. Even with a great interface and impeccable design, we fail to create a strong impression on the user. This is where usability testing is especially important. Usability testing is all about finding a fix to meet the needs of the user. It saves money, time and other precious resources. It finds problems when they are still easy and cheap to fix.
Usability testing helps us to identify what went wrong in the designing process so that we don’t do the same mistake in the future. It provides us with a unique perspective about what users do in a specific environment. Users are also allowed to participate in the design process through feedback or user evaluations. One of the primary objectives of usability testing is to create a finished product that is innovative, less expensive and simpler to use. Remember that, with a few improvements and changes in design, it is possible to deliver the best product you want for your customers. For the UX team, usability testing should be at the top of their agenda to make sure that everything works perfectly before the final product is launched.