Usability testing is a technique used to determine how users will interact with a product. Whether the goal is to design a new digital product or evaluate ways to improve an existing product, designers should utilize usability testing throughout the entire project timeline. Usability testing is used to gain integral information on how real users interact with a digital product and ensure that the final product built is intuitive, simple, and easy for users to navigate.
Multiple usability tests can be conducted during a products development and it is recommended that usability testing begin during the prototyping stage. This is because the earlier real users to get experiment with your product the easier and less expensive it is to fix any identified problems or inefficiencies in the design.
During a usability test, users are provided with the new digital product and are encouraged to interact with the new design. Observers should be present to monitor the user as they progress through the test. Observers must pay attention to the user’s body language, facial expressions, and emotion. Users should be encouraged to speak out loud as they navigate the product. Extensive notes should be taken to document what currently works on the new product and what does not.
Why Usability test?
Validate your prototype
Conducting usability tests early in the project timeline process will assess user reactions before significant investment is made in development. By user testing your prototypes designers can validate concepts that will greatly improve decision making for the final product.
Confirm your product meets expectations
Multiple usability tests should be completed to ensure user experiences are taken into consideration during the development of the product. By testing usability, designers ensure that the final product completely meets expectations of targeted users.
Identify issues with complex user flows
Many modern digital products contain intended user flows. User flows are the paths that users must take in order to complete a task, an example of this could be the check-out process on an e-commerce website. By testing & observing real users navigate through specified tasks, designers can make changes or confirm intended functionality.
Usability testing can be used to identify major problems, or minor errors. By including users from outside the design and development team of a project, new sets of eyes can be used to catch spelling mistakes or other needed corrections that other team members may have missed.
Get buy-in for change
Getting buy in for change is difficult. When teams spend a lot of time on a project, legacy bias has the tendency to occur. This means that team members may develop blinders or tunnel vision over certain features and functionalities that make up a product. Suggestions for change or optimizations can be offered but they will never be taken as seriously as suggestions made after observing a real user struggle with navigating your new product.
Usability testing is an extremely important step in the development process of a modern digital product. Without usability testing, design teams would essentially be flying blind during the development of a new product. By including users during the development process companies ensure the final version of a product is well received by the majority of their customers.