How to conduct usability testing: A step-by-step guide

usability testing

What is usability testing?

Usability testing is the process of assessing a product or service using real users. The participants will attempt to execute standard tasks during a test while observers watch, listen, and take notes. This study aims to evaluate the product’s usability, gather qualitative and quantitative information, and assess participant satisfaction.

To conduct a successful usability test, you must create a sound test design, acquire test subjects, and then evaluate and present your findings.

Types of usability testing

  • Qualitative and quantitative – The two categories of user research are qualitative and quantitative, respectively. The data that they deal with is one of the main distinctions between qualitative and quantitative usability assessment. Quantitative research focuses on numbers and statistics to address the questions of “what,” “where,” and “when,” while qualitative research uses words and meaning to explore the “why.” Depending on your research objectives, specific testing methodologies may work better when it comes to usability testing.
  • Moderated and unmoderated- Setting up a usability test involves choosing between moderated and unmoderated testing. All usability testing techniques fall into one of two categories: moderated or unmoderated. Some techniques might work with either approach. The main difference between moderated and unmoderated usability testing is the presence of a facilitator (moderator), which can also affect the setting.
  • Remote and in-person- When testing will determine in large part whether you want to start your usability testing with a remote or in-person approach. A usability test for physical objects may naturally be conducted in person, but a remote application can be used to assess software or internet applications just as effectively. You may find that your usability testing will function equally well with remote and in-person usability testing, in which case you must consider the advantages and disadvantages of both strategies.

Related reading: Techniques and best practices to conduct productive usage & attitude research

Benefits of usability testing

Thanks to usability testing, the design and development teams can find issues before they are coded. The faster problems are found and resolved, the less costly the remedies will be in terms of both staff time and potential schedule effect. A usability test will allow you to:

  • Learn if participants can complete specific tasks successfully
  • Identify how long it takes to complete specific tasks
  • Find out how satisfied participants are with your Web site or other product
  • Identify changes required to improve user performance and satisfaction
  • And analyze the performance to see if it meets your usability objectives

5 Best practices for usability testing

  1. Get consent

When conducting usability testing, you should obtain participants’ permission twice. Initially, at the start of the test, and then at the conclusion. Therefore, you should obtain their permission to record the test and the results before you begin. You should next request their permission to keep the test results and use the data at the conclusion of the test. Because a participant initially only has a vague concept of what they are committing to, it is crucial to obtain their consent again.

  1. Be inclusive

Be deliberate when selecting the participants for your usability test, and make sure to include individuals who might have various viewpoints on your product. People with various talents, demographics, usage patterns, market sectors, etc. are included in this. You will learn from others who are different from you and who see and act in ways that you do not if you are purposeful and inclusive in your testing audience.

  1. Run a pilot test

Before you ask for any of your customers or potential customers to spend their time giving you feedback, make sure to pilot your usability test with someone inside your organization, ideally someone not on your team. Among other things, this allows you to identify aspects of the study or product that are obvious to you, but that may be missing from your study experience.

  1. Establish evaluation criteria

We should know what success looks like for product testing and have clear ways to identify when people were (not) successful. Bonus points if you have easy ways to keep track of that in your notes.

  1. Be mindful of the length

A usability test should only be conducted for as long as necessary to feel confident in the findings. Few people want to devote their entire day to evaluating the usability of the product, and there aren’t many people who would be willing to provide feedback on it. If you are worried that the test may take too long, pilot it to get feedback. It is far preferable to run many independent tests than to receive input from people who are cognitively exhausted from being pushed to perform too much.

In conclusion, usability testing is a crucial process that helps assess the usability of a product or service using real users. To conduct a successful usability test, it is important to follow best practices, such as obtaining consent from participants, being inclusive in participant selection, running a pilot test, establishing evaluation criteria, and being mindful of the test’s length. To know how Netscribes can help you implement these best practices and obtain accurate and valuable insights that can be used to improve the user experience of your product or service, contact us

Based on insights by Poulami Paul, Senior Manager, R&I Consumer.

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