Usability testing puts your product in front of real users and tracks their experience while they try to understand how it works. This type of testing is usually performed in a lab environment, with researchers observing the process.
As you have probably already figured out, the main purpose of usability testing is to see if real users understand and can use your product as intended. If there are areas where the testers get confused or frustrated, the problem is flagged to help improve the product. However, in order to organize a powerful and efficient user experience test, a company must pass through several steps. We summarized the five most important ones in this article.
Test the Concept
Many producers see testing as the final phase of their work, but this is a dangerous approach. Without testing, you run on the assumption that everything you’re doing serves the interest of the target audience, without actually asking for their opinion. The problem with this approach is that testing when the product is almost complete can (and usually does) unveil a series of flaws. These newly discovered flaws send the product back to development and add time to the announced release date.
To avoid all of this and make sure your product is viable in the market, it’s best to run a usability test for the concept. You can do this by creating a prototype of the final product instead of waiting until the product is completed. The prototype can be a website with limited functionalities or a demo app, but it will let you know if the idea will be usable and understandable to your target audience.
Have a Test Plan
You need to know what you’re testing for. As such, each product should come with a test plan or script that users need to follow. Depending on the goal of the test, there can be open-ended and/or specific tasks and questions that the testers need to follow to effectively test your product.
Recruiting Participants for User Testing
Keep in mind that user experience testing should be designed around real users as this is the only way to get relevant results.
Who you choose to test your products is a crucial step and must be treated with the utmost care. Start by understanding the target audience and creating the ideal persona of your future customers. Once you have this profile, it will be easier to select usability test participants that are as close to the target audience as possible.
Document the Results
Recording observations made during the test is paramount. All usability tests are observed by researchers in a lab environment, but companies also use mouse tracking software and eye-movement recordings to make sure they capture every aspect of the experience. This data should be accurately recorded in order for the company and researchers to glean as much information as possible from the testing.
Once the test is complete, all the recorded data must be analyzed, processed, and then filed as precisely as possible.
Applying the Results
As we already mentioned, the purpose of testing is to understand users’ reactions to the product and improve their experience with it in the future by making changes to the product. So, the final step that matters in the process is applying the results of testing to the concept or product in development.
When performed correctly and with the right users, a usability test provides a large amount of information which will let you know about the most popular sections, the ones that are confusing, and operations that don’t appeal to the public. With this data, it is now your job to make adjustments to the product to improve the quality of the product and improve user experience.