Usability Testing: Everything You Need to Know

Creative professionals generally view their work as top class content! But the sad truth is that most creatives are biased towards their work – they genuinely feel that their work is perfect and sometimes get too attached to their own content, leaving them unable to carry out editorial decisions that may in fact make their work read or appear much better.

No matter the line of work, an outsider’s fresh pair of eyes is far more valuable than those of the content writer or website designer so heavily invested in the process. This is where usability testing comes in, with SEO check-ups for written content, accurate pathway checking for website development and possibly even A/B Testing for website design and layout – making sure your published content is performing to the best of its ability is key to reaching digital success.

What is usability testing?

Usability testing is a technique used in the overall judgement and perception of a product. Whether this is done in-house or with a client’s guidance; real users need to be addressed in the process too. End-users are the primary target to satisfy during the implementation phase of a rebranding project and requires honesty, data and problem solving. This is generally why testers are given a set of criteria to follow and record for further improvements to the end product.

These are the 7 steps to usability testing

  1. Plan the test: identify what you want feedback on
  2. Get participants on board: find a selection of candidates who can deliver varied opinions
  3. Prepare all material: make sure you perform testing when you are happy with the material you will be showcasing
  4. Stage your environment: get your website to deliver an experience, your content to engage and your SEO to convert
  5. Testing time: give your candidates a set timeframe to explore your end product; minimum instruction will allow them to wander while strict directions will create ‘weaker’ results
  6. Analyse your data: collect data from your user testers; find the common problems and highlights and make a plan to improve and strengthen your product
  7. Present your results: create a report for reference and share with valuable advisors in your company this will close the decision making process before going back to the client.

How important is usability testing?

The ultimate goal of usability testing is simple: identifying the problems and turning them into the highlights of your tested product. This valuable information could be the make or break moment in your workflow and lead you on to exciting new opportunities with honest users’ suggestions.

The saying, ‘the customer is always right’ still holds here. At the end of the day, the users testing your website, app or blog will mimic the end users you wish to target. And their opinions and suggestions could easily be considered golden!

While usability testing can endure some extra costs, the practice should always be scheduled with every project. Changes carried out at a later stage might easily amount to a whole lot more work for your team and in turn result in lost hours, resources and cost a whole lot more.

Why is usability testing unavoidable?

UX and design professionals will probably shout out “ALWAYS”, and they’re quite right. They require this information to be able to develop their designs to their absolute perfection; so feedback and regular research is what keeps UX professionals hard at work.

Identifying and solving problems in the early stages of a product can give users a more concentrated experience, with every pathway on a website or app managed in the easiest way possible. When websites are unprofessionally designed and implemented, users are more inclined to exit the website entirely and turn to competitors whose sites are thought of as more reliable and easy to use. This increases the bounce rate on your website and serves as an indicator that changes need to be made.

What are the benefits of usability testing?

There are a number of advantages in usability testing, but some of the most prominent advantages include:

  • unbiased data and honest indications of the pain points in a project,
  • convenient gathering of data that could be done remotely or in a quiet space on site,
  • unfiltered access to users’ habits on your site, ensuring all pages are easily accessed,
  • clear guidelines on where improvements need to be made before launch stage,
  • inexpensive soft launches with a niche market, who will in turn let the public know about your product with word of mouth.

What types of usability testing should you use?

There are many types of usability testing tools and techniques including;

  1. The Hallway/Guerilla Approach – where random users who are generally unfamiliar with your service or product test websites and apps and evaluate their user experience on the spot.
  2. The Remote/Unmoderated Approach – where third party software is used to target niche participants, allowing them to choose their own paths along your website and judge their experience based on pathways inspired in their natural environment.
  3. The Moderated Approach – where prompts are shared to target specific functions on a site or app; this is usually done through video or with prepared instructions shared prior to the task.

Finding the best approach for your company might require some testing, but with professionals in the area in your team, you’ll be able to identify this a lot easier.

Get in touch with our usability testing experts to find out how your website could reach its full potential.