What is a usability test?
First things first, what is a usability test? This is the evaluation of a product to determine if it meets the user-centered purpose. It confirms the effectiveness of the product to the user. Look at it this way; you are designing a social media app for aged persons between the ages of 50 and 65. A good usability test practice would involve inviting representatives of that age-grade before the design of the app, discussing with them about the app and making observations, and also repeating the process during the design of the app and after its completion.
Why Should You Run A Usability Test?
The only person that feels the pain from an ill-fitted shoe is the person wearing the shoe. It is easy to conclude that your design is perfect after you make it. Everything might seem great to you. However, it is the user of the product that is in the best position to rate the greatness of the design. Here are some reasons why a usability test should be conducted:
Eliminate assumptions: Instead of working with mere assumptions from other designers and clients, a usability test helps you design a product from backed-up facts. This makes the product more useful, thereby improving the desirability of the product and its market success.
Address pain points directly: When you know pain points, it is easier to address them. By conducting a usability test, you can get firsthand information that shows the wants, needs, and pleasures of the user, and use this information in the design of the product.
Avoid unplanned spending: Product designing can be expensive. If you put a lot of money into the design of a product only to find out that it does not meet the user specification, and it might need redesigning, you might have to spend more money. Also, the time and energy put into the redesign might be a complete waste.
Eliminate unrealistic expectations: A usability test will give you concrete answers that will eliminate unrealistic expectations. With the feedback you will get, you can determine whether the product is needed, and the exact interface required. This will guide your expectations when the product is finally released.
Track the user's success with your product: One of the best parts of conducting a usability test is that you have the opportunity to watch your product being used in real-time while getting live feedback.
Usability Testing Methods
There are three main methods used in conducting a usability test. They include:
Moderated In-Person method
Moderated remote method
Unmoderated remote usability testing (URUT)
Moderated In-Person method: This type of test is usually conducted in a monitored lab to ensure that the participants undergo the test unassisted. Participants are invited to come into a lab where questions will be asked and answered, reviews done and feedback taken. Here, a moderator is physically present to coordinate this review. Participants can ask the moderator questions, and get direct answers.
Moderated remote method: This is just like the first method, only this time, the moderator and participants are in separate locations. This test is usually conducted online using the screen-sharing method. The moderator can watch the participant’s screen as he uses the product, noting difficulties that are encountered in the process. Questions and answers and feedback are all done virtually. This is how you can perform your tests on our platform!
Unmoderated Remote Usability Testing (URUT): This method is used when trying to collect information from a lot of people. Afterward, the information is collected and vetted properly. This method is a very inexpensive one. This feature will soon be available on Odaptos, allowing you to retrieve quantitative data in a qualitative way thanks to AI.
Types of Usability Tests
Different test types are employed to reach different research goals. Here are the four types of Usability tests:
Problem discovery: This method focuses on finding as many problems as possible and trying to solve them. This method is effective during the product development phase. The participants attempt to complete different tasks using the app or website or product to check for predominant problems so that they can be fixed, and the interface can be better. Problem discovery is most effective before and during a redesign.
Eye-tracking: Here, the moderator can uncover usability problems without interfering with the natural user behaviour. Moderators can tell if the design is optimized for quick scanning by studying the gaze of the user while using the product. This will tell you the general user experience level and help you improve it.
Learnability: This type of test tells the moderator how easy it is for the user to understand the working principle of the product. This is very important as nobody wants to use a product that is difficult to understand. The learnability method can be quite difficult to gauge since everyone has a different understanding capacity, but with expert skills, a moderator can check the number of errors and the efficiency of the product to the user, and draw conclusions from there.
Benchmark: This type of usability test shows the usefulness of your product to users. It also shows how users perform key tasks. The problem with the benchmark is that there is a level of artificiality that makes the validity of the findings a bit questionable. To make this method effective, you can ask users to complete some tasks on your product site and complete the same tasks on a competitor’s product site. The results of both will help you note the site that provides the best user experience and make necessary adjustments.
How To Complete A Usability Test?
Users know exactly what they want, and this is what they give the higher preference. An efficient user test will contain non-leading objective tasks which help the moderator to identify patterns of the user’s pain and pleasure points.
Here is how you can develop a functional usability test:
1. Get a hypothesis: Have a hypothesis that shows what is working, and what is not working, and also shows parts of the design that you think need improvements.
2. Draft out the user-test objective: Know what you hope to accomplish from the user test. The more tests you run, the more you can be specific with your objectives for the test.
3. Create a prototype: The next step is to develop your test scripts specifying specific tasks that should be completed by the user.
4. Ask smart verbal reaction questions after the test: Some reactions will only be displayed verbally. Ask each participant a question after they have completed the general test. It could be something as simple as: ‘if you had magical powers, what is the one feature you would include in this design?’.
5. Record answers and conclude.
Usability Test Before a Redesign
A usability test should form the fundamentals of the research for the redesign of a product. This means, when you are starting a redesign, part of the data you should be working with should come from a pre-conducted usability test. You can use data from the test to know the user’s predominant pain point from the existing design and this can help you avoid making similar mistakes.
Usability Test During a Redesign
So, we just took a test before starting the redesign, do we still need another test during the process? Yes, we do! A test at this stage can save you a lot of money. Having a user run through a design in the making stages of the design will identify any loopholes that you might have missed, and give you some finishing ideas that you could use. The user’s excitement, curiosity, and efficiency with the product redesign will tell you how the market will receive your product when eventually released.
Usability Test After a Redesign
This is the most popular redesign test conducted. The objective is no longer testing the functionality of the product, but testing the user experience with the product functionality. This is the final stage just before the release of the new product.
The whole idea of conducting tests is to get results from the potential users of a product and use the results to improve the quality and user experience of the product. A lot of manufacturers prefer to do this after-the-design test a few days before the launch of the product. However, this can be very risky. If possible, give yourself ample time between the final testing and the release of the product.
Now you see why usability testing is important in all phases of a redesign and not just before the launch ! Start testing with Odaptos 🚀