We have tested this repeatedly. Each time with the same result. Indeed, it only takes 5 users to catch about 80% of the most common problems appearing when using websites, mobile, and web applications.
That is why Usability Tests (e.g., of websites and applications) are so popular.
They provide practical optimization tips at a relatively low cost and relative ease and speed of execution.
Even more importantly, they can be performed at any stage of digital product development and operation (wireframe, mockup, prototype, final product).
Usually, their execution requires 2 days and a maximum of 10 respondents.
Remote usability testing is also becoming increasingly popular, making it possible to test even the most diverse users from a target group.
Usability Tests – definition. What is Usability Testing?
Usability Testing of websites or applications is a research method classified as qualitative research.
In contrast to quantitative research, which answers the question “How often?”, website Usability Tests answer the question “Why?”. The results of this research provide information about the causes of the problem.
What can be studied with Usability Testing?
They make it possible to get an answer, for example, to the question of why some people abandon the website or why it does not get the expected conversion result.
Through this research, we will also find out what users find difficult, what frustrates them, and what they do not understand.
Usability Tests make it possible to find out how a service or an application is used, what emotions they arouse, what reactions they evoke, what attitudes they cause, and what obstacles customers face when visiting a given website.
Usability Testing (e.g., interface testing) helps to verify whether users understand correctly:
- functions of a website or an application
- the usability scope of a website or an application.
As well as if they can:
- use all available functions
- navigate a site with a sense of purpose and meaning.
To what extent is it problematic/easy for them to:
- find information
- achieve goals.
They make it possible to examine the following:
- attractiveness (to what extent a product stands out from competing solutions)
- effectiveness (to what extent a product helps to achieve desired goals)
- aesthetics (to what extent contact with a product is a source of aesthetic pleasure)
- ease of use (the speed with which it is possible to learn how a website or application works)
- approachability (the speed with which it is possible to learn all the functions)
- satisfaction (the strength of the emotional reactions, triggered by the use of a product)
- effectiveness (the speed at which a user achieves the set goal)
- comprehensibility (unambiguity of the function-purpose relationship).
By considering the structural elements of a website, web, or mobile application, Usability Testing helps to study user reactions.
They make it possible to investigate problems that arise during interactions with:
- search engines
- home page and subpages
- calculators (or similar tools)
- product cards
- media embedded on the site
- information architecture.
Advantages of Usability Tests – examples
The most fundamental advantages of Usability Testing include the following:
- speed of execution (the research with a summary report can be completed in a few days)
- appealing price (they are among the cheapest studies)
- the relative unproblematic nature of their conduct (they can be carried out stationary and remote, moderated and unmoderated)
- optimality (they capture most of the key problems and make it possible to study users of a site without space limitations)
- effectiveness (make it possible to correctly diagnose the causes of, for example, a low conversion rate in a short period of time).
The fundamental advantages should be supplemented by other equally important ones, such as:
- diagnosis of specific sales and branding problems, even at the design stage
- optimization based on reasonable information (e.g., A/B UX testing)
- improvement of experience, satisfaction, and benefits of using a website or application
- an adequate product that fulfills real needs
- reducing customer service costs
- increasing customer loyalty
- increasing ROI.
Types of Usability Tests
The development of research tools (mainly for collecting, analyzing, and presenting data) has contributed significantly to expanding the number of research methods and techniques.
Today, we can use tools and methods to study very different aspects (e.g., declarations vs. actual behavior) and responses (e.g., ocular responses).
In general, we can divide Usability Testing (UX testing) into:
- stationary, moderated tests with the participation of users
- remote (moderated and unmoderated) with the participation of users.
In most cases, UX Usability Testing is performed in a task-based formula.
The Course of Usability Testing (UX Testing)
Each usability research should be conducted based on a detailed scenario.
A correctly prepared scenario should stem from a thoughtful consideration of basic issues:
- the scope of research (what we want to find out)
- the method of research (from whom and how we want to find out).
Established assumptions form the basis for creating a research scenario and guide the selection of respondents and the choice of research method or techniques.
Regardless of the method, technique, or tool with which they will be performed, usability tests have a similar course.
Each phase has its role and must not be overlooked. The accuracy of all the results depends to a large extent on the reliability of the execution of each step.
A typical test should include the following:
- Preparatory Phase – used to determine the objectives of a study, research tools, target groups, and tasks to be performed by respondents
- Respondent Recruitment Phase – used to recruit respondents (including reserve respondents)
- Research Phase – usually spanning about 60 minutes per respondent
- Analysis Phase – used to analyze the collected data, observations
- Synthesis Phase – used to draw firm conclusions and make optimization recommendations
- Reporting Phase – used to inform individual stakeholders about the results and recommendations.
In Task-based Usability Tests, respondents perform specific actions and are most often asked:
- to find a product subpage and make a purchase
- to find a subpage dedicated to a given service and order it
- to contact a company using a form or widget
- to register in a store or service
- to edit their account after registration
- to try using a SaaS application (e.g., issuing an invoice in an e-accounting system).
Tasks can focus on the following:
- execution of actions
- understanding the operation of a website or application.
During the study, moderators pay special attention to:
- actions that were taken by respondents (e.g., clicks)
- their reactions
- time and ease of performing a task
- means of achieving goals
- number and type of mistakes made
- obstacles encountered during the execution of a task.
- The most popular research techniques include:
- Click-Tracking (session recording)
- Post-its and Affinities
- Rapid Iterative Prototyping Evaluation.