In order to avoid any misfortune during a journey, you check your car before embarking on one (especially the long ones). Same goes with software, mobile apps and websites, you are required to test it and get it fixed first before you hand it over to your customer (from where its long journey starts).
Usability testing is a very valuable and an effective exercise, as it provides you with insights on how convenient it is for your users to use your application.
Despite being incredibly effective in ensuring that your application is working exactly the way it’s intended to work, many organizations skip this process and think its waste of time and money. Which is not true.
Usability testing – What is it?
Without taking in the input of real users, it’s impossible for the development team to create the most ideal user experience. That’s because they are too close to it, they know the minute details of the project, they’ll easily be able to do any steps that a real user might find challenging.
This is where usability testing plays a vital role.
Usability Testing is defined as a type of software testing where, a small set of target end-users, of a software system, “use” it to expose usability defects. This testing mainly focuses on the user’s ease to use the application, flexibility in handling controls and the ability of the system to meet its objectives. It is also called User Experience (UX) Testing. In simple words, it tests whether the software is user-friendly or not. (Source: Guru99)
The goal of usability testing is to please the end-user and it focuses on the following parameters of the system,
- Effectiveness of the system
- User Friendliness
Why is usability testing important in 2019?
The overall digital population is growing. According to the latest stats, there are 4.3 billion internet users (9% increase since 2018). There are 5.1 billion unique mobile users (2% increase since last year). This is the right time to consider usability testing more than ever.
Usability testing enables you to gather the information that you require to build a system that users would like to use. Remember this; the one thing that’s very crucial to your product’s success is your user base regardless of the kind of software you’re building.
The success of the product is usually determined on how well the product works.
In the past, there have been situations in which an application or website failed miserably due to the following reasons,
- Poor design
- Slow loading time
- No proper Call-To-Actions
- Broken links and pages
- Poor Navigation
Therefore, it’s important for your software to undergo usability testing in this digital age to fulfil the user’s needs. Having a user-friendly product will make the users like using your software and maybe even recommend it to others.
Observe the behavior of your software users in order to understand why and how they use your software. Then afterwards ask these questions from a tester’s standpoint,
- Does the software work the same way it was intended to?
- Do you get the desired value from it?
- How you feel after using, are you frustrated or satisfied?
Once you get answers to these questions, you’ll have enough information to provide to the development team to build highly interactive software that’ll keep your users engaged.
How usability testing can help in making informed decisions
It’s important that the development and design team receives the required information from the testing team to be successful. But it’s also necessary for the development team to avoid obvious mistakes to make sure you can work toward informed decisions.
Firstly, you need to be clear about why you’re performing usability testing. What are you looking for, what do you want to discover through performing this testing? Before you start usability testing its necessary that you set clear goals in front of you, in order to make sure that whatever info you get, at the end it must enable you to move forward with the software.
You cannot make informed decisions based on conflicting results and hence cannot improve the quality of the software.
A better way would be to test for specific requirements, such as “Does the design convert visitor to a purchaser of your product?” The more detailed you make your question, the more useful your results will be.
How to conduct Usability Testing?
One important thing that you should always remember is that your user is not familiar with the functions in your software, he’ll be teaching himself as he uses it. Users will often forget how things work (even if there’s training involved). So, it’s necessary that you develop test cases that cover several things such as the use of language, usability, the user interface and documentation.
It might be a difficult decision whether to perform usability testing or not but believe me, if done correctly it will reap massive benefits to your projects.
Methods of Usability Testing
There are numerous methods of usability testing. Some of the most frequently used methods are listed below to give you an idea of how it is performed.
In this technique, the participant organizes items sets into groups and then labels them. Often used for testing a taxonomy structure, this testing method provides important info for deciding the names of various pages, screens, or functions and how to group them.
In this testing, users operate the software in their own environment and their attempts to accomplish tasks are supervised by a moderator via a browser webcam.
This testing type is simple, it involves two different live variations of software among whom the incoming traffic is divided, later on, a comparison is made between their conversion rate.
What makes usability testing essential is that it helps both software testers and developers to maintain the usability, reliability, accuracy, functionality, and other aspects of the software. Therefore, you can easily ensure that your application is easy to use by implementing it during the initial stage of software development which will ultimately lead to remarkable user satisfaction.
Pradeep is a Content Writer and Digital Marketing Specialist at Indium Software with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry.