Usability Testing in UX Design — What You Need To Know

Introduction

As you move into the world of UX design, there is one thing you must learn and understand continuously, that is usability testing. However, usability testing is a critical skill to master and is not as easy as you may think.

Usability testing plan is important to conduct in each phase of the lifecycle of product development. It’s important to conduct if you want to ensure your product is working well. Let’s not forget how important it’s to collect feedback throughout the process.

Let’s not wait any further because, in this article, we will find out the most important things you need to know about usability testing.

What is Usability Testing?

Usability testing is when a researcher (moderator) asks participants to execute certain tasks and often uses one or more user interfaces. The participants complete tasks, and the researcher will observe their behavior and collect feedback during the process.

After feedback is collected, you can leverage it and try to complete the following objectives:

  • Determine if testers can complete tasks easily and without asking for help
  • Assess participant’s performance and how they feel whenever they complete the task
  • Find out how enjoyable it is for users to complete tasks
  • Identify issues that arise during the usability test
  • Find new solutions

How do you perform a usability test on a website?

While usability testing is excellent at creating the right products, it shouldn’t be your only focus when evaluating your users, and let’s be honest, it won’t improve usability overall.

Usability Testing Leads to Excellent Products

While conducting usability testing, you can quickly identify design flaws, especially when gathering your users’ feedback about your UX design.

The Usability Testing Methods

There are three different usability testing methods :

  • Remote Usability Testing: Remote research includes an insight platform for recording the screen for testing participants as they start to interact with your product in their own environment (home, office, and more).
  • Guerilla Usability Testing: Aims to cut out time-consuming parts. The researcher conducts usability testing in public areas quickly and on-spot. For example, a researcher will go into a cafe and start asking users to complete a set of tasks for usability testing purposes.
  • In-person: Live testing of participants and research experience researched to undergo the usability testing. This is similar to guerilla usability testing but doesn’t involve only public areas. The type of testing method you choose will depend on your product, your business requirements, and where you are in the design process.

Usability Testing Isn’t User Testing

Even though you may think they are the same, usability and user testing are two different things. Before looking at what kind of differences they have in between each other, let’s look at their similarities:

  • Both aim to create design solutions that meet real user needs
  • Both take time to listen to what users have to say, what their pain points are, and more
  • Both methods seek to address issues and pain points

Now let’s discuss the differences. User testing is more concerned with asking users if they want the current product or what kind of product would benefit them initially. It’s completely user-focused.

On the other hand, usability testing goals are more product-focused and look at what users need in a product context. It takes your current existing product and places it in users’ hands to see how it will work for them and if they can accomplish what they want with your product.

The Types of Usability Testing

Usability testing is either quantitative or qualitative.

  • Quantitative usability testing: Focuses primarily on collecting metrics that talk about how the user experience is. Two important metrics in quantitative usability testing are time on task and task success. Companies usually will use this type of usability testing for collecting benchmarks.
  • Qualitative usability testing: Focuses on collecting insights, findings, and how people use their product. It’s a favorite for identifying any issues users might have whenever they use their product.

The number of participants you need to conduct usability tests will vary on the study type. However, according to studies, the ideal number of participants you should be using for your usability testing should be no more than five participants in order to achieve the best results.

In-Person vs Remote Testing

Remote usability testing is often a popular method since it doesn’t require lots of investment and doesn’t only save you money but lots of time as well. There are two types of remote testing:

  • Remote unmoderated: This type of testing doesn’t have the same interactions as in-person usability testing. In this type of testing, the researcher will use an online remote-testing tool to set up tasks for participants to complete. Participants will be conducting these tasks independently, while the testing tool provides instructions and follow-up questions if users have any.
  • Remote moderated: This type of usability testing is similar to in-person studies. The researcher (moderator) interacts with participants and asks them to complete a set of tasks. However, the participant and user will be in different geographical locations. Moderated tests can also be conducted using Zoom, Skype, and other screen-sharing platforms.

Usability Testing Costs

Whenever you conduct discount usability tests, they may not result in high costs but ask you to pay extra as incentives for participants. Testing sessions might occur in different areas, and one of the most simple tests will still take up to three days to complete. Assuming you’ve already identified what you want and have gathered participants for your test:

  • Day 1 will include planning the testing phase
  • Day 2 will include testing the ideal number of users (five)
  • Day 3 will analyze what kind of results were achieved and make any readjustments if needed

Alternatively, you can’t always get away with cheap tests since in-depth research is sometimes required. However, the more research you include, the higher the costs will be and sometimes can even accumulate to several thousands of dollars.

What are the things that add up to these costs? They include the following:

  • International testing in different countries worldwide
  • Testing with multiple groups
  • Quantitative studies
  • Competitive testing
  • Conducting usability lab testing
  • Using expensive equipment
  • In-depth insights and reports

However, the return on investment (ROI) for advanced research usability testing can be high even if prices are high. However, before you start conducting usability testing, you must know when and when not to do it.

When Should You Not Conduct Usability Testing?

The only time usability testing won’t help you gain any insights are when:

  • You gather quantitative data regarding your product usage
  • Estimate the market value and demand
  • Validate desirability
  • Test your product design and visuals

How do you plan a usability test?

You should do usability tests in different phases of the product design & development phases:

  • Whenever you form a design concept
  • At the very beginning of the project, so you ensure which areas you need to improve
  • The UX design or redesign phases
  • During the product design development phase

It’s best to practice usability testing in every product design development cycle phase. This is because it can help improve the product’s overall usability.

How Many Usability Tests Should You Conduct?

As we mentioned before, the ideal number of people you should be testing is no more than five participants, and with this amount of participants, you’re unveiling 85% of usability issues.

Another popular framework is RITE (Rapid Iterative Testing and Evaluation), promoting faster solutions and processes. When using this framework, it’s best to run one usability test and discover issues right after. Therefore, applying this framework allows you to conduct usability testing faster and more often.

What is the best time to conduct usability testing?

If possible, conduct usability testing right at the beginning of your product development phase and before starting any new design work. This quickly helps you identify any areas that may not seem right and reduces the assumption rates your design team will make. Moreover, after the usability test analysis is over, your team should be able to identify what needs to be completed regarding project goals.

Conclusion

Usability testing for websites is essential for having a successful product design and ensuring your product is functioning well after launch. Unfortunately, many companies fail to run the proper usability testing methods and are upset after their product launches with many issues.

The best thing to do above all is to get feedback from the beginning of the usability test and ensure you are well aware of issues from the start and not after the product launch!

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