How To Conduct Usability Testing For Websites?

Theoretically, an ideal website should be immediately clear to new visitors, easy to use (even after long breaks from the site) and error-free. All these while delivering a pleasant experience for all users. 

While this might seem obvious, in practice, it’s quite challenging for many organisations to achieve. Unfortunately, very few web interfaces are perfect as many websites are typically poorly laid-out, therefore making user navigation counter-intuitive. 

For instance, their web components comprise poorly labelled buttons, or unclear prompts, which frustrate new or returning users. One way to avert such problems is usability testing. 

Usability testing for websites

What is usability testing?

To accurately define usability testing, we need to first define usability. Usability can be generally defined as the degree to which a device or software assists a person to accomplish a specific task. This is in contrast to becoming an additional impediment to the task’s accomplishment. 

That being said, usability testing is a set of non-functional testing techniques employed to measure how easily a software system or hardware device can be utilised by end-users.

What is website usability?

Website usability testing, also sometimes referred to as User Experience (UX) testing or user testing, involves using testing techniques to measure how easy, intuitive, and user-friendly a software application is. 

Website usability test revolves around exposing usability defects by determining users’ ease of using an application, the flexibility of the controls, and the capacity of the application to meet its objectives. 

The human-computer interaction characteristics of software are measured, and weaknesses are identified for correction.

As such, usability refers particularly to how well people engage with a website.

Jakob Nielsen, probably the most famous usability expert, believes that usability constitutes five key components: learnability, efficiency, memorability, minimisation of errors, and satisfaction. These can be broken down as: 

  • Learnability: How easy is it for website users to accomplish basic tasks the first time on the site.
  • Satisfaction: How pleasant and easy is it to use the website?
  • Efficiency: Once visitors have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
  • Memorability: How easily can return users re-establish proficiency?¬†
  • Error rates: How many, severe and permanent are user errors?¬†

Why is website usability testing needed?

Usability tests are typically conducted for multiple reasons, namely:

  • To determine the time it takes to complete a task compared against established benchmarks.
  • To ascertain user satisfaction by understanding user pain points to come up with applicable design solutions to improve user performance.
  • To evaluate if users can navigate your website.¬†
  • To identify potential problems with website functionality.
  • To establish if a website is accomplishing an organisation‚Äôs goals.

Overall, the primary goal of usability testing is to ensure that people can utilise your website.

Website usability testing methods

There are numerous methods and techniques for usability testing, namely:

Comparative Usability Testing

In comparative usability testing, end users are essentially required to choose the best of two or more options. It’s principally performed to check the effectiveness of a website against that of its competitors to identify any shortcomings, then address them.

It involves observing metrics like error rates, task completion, and time spent on each specific task.

Explorative Usability Testing

Unlike comparative tests, explorative usability tests are more open-ended as participants are encouraged to give their opinions and explain how they feel about a specific design or user flow.

It is usually performed during the initial stages of website development to judge how users might react to the design. This is to create a fully informed process with users’ exact needs in mind.

Cognitive Walkthrough

This testing approach is designed to assess how a website interface supports first-time users while they learn how to complete a task. 

The designers and developers basically imagine the possible steps that would be performed by a user to complete a particular task. They then evaluate the website system’s responses to those tasks. 

Cognitive Walkthrough
Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

Focus Groups 

Here, a small group of people (participants) sit around a table and interactively react to ideas and designs that are shown to them.

Heuristic Evaluation

In this testing approach, testers examine a website to judge how well it conforms to standard usability principles. Evaluators systematically compare a website against a set-list of defined criteria to determine how closely its design follows recognised usability principles.

Think Aloud Testing

The thinking aloud approach entails observing test users’ interactions with the website as they navigate through the website, and vocalise their thoughts.

In practice, users complete a particular task, vocalising their thoughts as they navigate while explaining why they performed each action and what they are looking for. As such, anything that seems confusing or frustrating is marked upon and recorded for action.

Remote Usability Testing

In this testing approach, the testers and users could be in different countries and time zones. As such, remote testing is, at times, performed using video conferencing software, while other times, the website user works separately from the evaluator. 

Currently, remote testing software allows remote usability testing to be performed even by observers who are not usability experts. Usually, this software automatically records the click locations and streams of the users. 

As well as any critical incidents that happened while they were exploring the website, along with any actionable feedback the user submits.

Guerrilla Testing

The guerilla testing approach of a usability test is probably the cheapest and simplest of the lot. In practice, it involves gathering feedback from random people.  

Sometimes, this method involves paper prototyping as an alternative to creating a functional prototype website. Overall, guerilla testing is a time-efficient technique since you do not have to recruit qualified or vetted participants, then wait for their responses.

Read more in our article on ‚ÄúGuerrilla testing‚ÄĚ

Phone Interview Testing

As a usability testing approach, phone interviews involve a researcher asking questions to testing participants. It could also be done by instructing them on how to perform a specific task over the phone. In turn, the participants give feedback regarding the website in question.

Overall, this technique is helpful when reaching out to participants and gathering data from wider geographic areas. This is because it allows you to obtain a broader perspective of the website’s potential issues.

Steps to conduct website usability testing

  1. Clearly determine metrics and create task analysis

It is imperative to figure out the precise metrics you‚Äôll consider during your testing. Since usability testing can uncover a host of issues, if it‚Äôs not being targeted around specific metrics, it won’t be an effective use of your time or money.¬†

As such, ensure to clearly state what you seek to achieve with the usability testing and the exact information you hope to gather. For instance, if you intend to know if website users can order a product successfully, then you should test the entire process from the front page to completing the order. 

Overall, usability metrics play a crucial role as statistics to measure a user’s performance on a given set of tasks. For example:¬†

  • Success Rate: This judges whether the user was able to complete the task.¬†
  • Error Rate: This metric looks at the errors tripped up by users most. They can be divided into either: critical and noncritical. In practice, critical errors prevent a user from completing a task. While noncritical errors lower the efficiency with which they complete tasks.
  • Time to Completion: This measures the amount of time a user takes to complete a task.¬†¬†
  • Subjective Measures: This metric numerically ranks a user‚Äôs self-determined satisfaction, ease-of-use, information availability, etc.
success rate
Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash
  1. Identify the best applicable test method

Usability testing takes multiple forms that come in a range of difficulty and investment requirements. That being said, it is important to determine the best type of test for your website depending on the metrics and tasks you have curated in step one.

After you set the test’s goal, decide which usability testing method is the most suitable. Also, consider the resources you have to do a website usability test.

  1. Create task scenarios and set your success rate

Ensure to create different task scenarios that participants should accomplish. For example, a series of tasks related to the aforementioned product ordering example we’ve used in step two. 

  1. Find suitable participants

From the outset, it is important to carefully determine the number of users you need to conduct a satisfactory usability test. Typically, the recommended industry standard is a minimum of five users.

As you source users, ensure that they are fair representations and approximations to real users. In practice, not validating website design changes with a unique user base can have some drastic implications to your site’s usability. 

  1. Decide when, where, and who

Essentially, this step involves choosing between two key decisions: 

  • Remote or in-person testing?
  • Moderated or unmoderated testing?

Website usability testing checklist

As you embark on your usability testing initiative, ensure that you check this checklist to increase your chances of success: 

  • Written website goals.
  • Written tasks users take to accomplish goals.¬†
  • Written scenarios and situations in which users would engage in these tasks.
  • A list of the usability metrics you will capture during the test.
  • A list of selected test methods.¬†
  • What point(s) during your project will your tests take place?
  • Number of testers you will need if a moderator is involved.
  • If you are conducting an online test or a paper test?¬†

Conclusion

Usability testing is an absolutely necessary activity for any business with an online presence.  As we have established, the three key metrics that are important for usability testing are satisfaction, efficiency, and effectiveness. 

Fundamentally, these metrics will determine the best type of usability test to perform for your website.

That being said, usability testing should be more than checking a list of product requirements, but an exercise to support your website design decisions.

Overall, by listening to users and understanding how they interact with your website, you can avoid spending unnecessary time and resources. And, in turn, better serve your users. Remember, usability testing should principally determine whether a website is:

  • Useful
  • Findable
  • Accessible
  • Usable
  • Desirable

The article is a part of our comprehensive series on ‚ÄúUsability testing‚ÄĚ.

What Is Guerrilla Testing and How to Use It?

More often than not, new products like electronic appliances, websites and mobile apps can cause users frustration as they may be tedious to use, lack flexibility, and take attention away from their core purpose. 

Today’s topic focuses on one of the techniques to mitigate such scenarios by employing guerrilla usability testing.

What is Guerrilla Testing?

In essence, guerrilla testing is a usability testing technique that involves gathering user feedback. It is accomplished by taking a product design or prototype to the public and asking random passersby for their thoughts. 

Typically, guerrilla testing sessions last for only 10-15 minutes, with a small incentive given to users like a coffee, coupon or cake.

Because of its simplicity, new ideas can be quickly tested at a low cost. As such, guerrilla usability testing is considered an inexpensive means of testing mobile apps, product prototypes or websites with real-life users. 

Guerrilla Testing Deliverables

For the most part, guerrilla¬†testing¬†deliverables are typically more qualitative than quantitative as they involve direct assessment of participants.¬†In practice, qualitative approaches tend to query ‚Äėwhy‚Äô rather than ‚Äėhow many‚Äô or ‚Äėhow much‚Äô.¬†

As a result, guerrilla testing seeks to inform development and design decisions for ongoing projects to identify usability issues, rather than assess the overall usability of an existing product or interface.

Thus, guerrilla testing is ideal for:

  • Getting fast baseline measures of an existing product experience.
  • Identifying crucial usability issues early in a product design lifecycle.
  • Testing hypotheses and validating assumptions during design sprints.¬†
  • Validating tasks that do not necessitate specific knowledge (for example, completing a signup form, or ordering a product in an e-commerce store)

Guerilla Testing vs Usability Testing

Usability testing revolves around testing how easy a particular design is to use with a specific group of representative users. In practice, it traditionally entails observing users’ reactions and behaviours to a website, app or product.

The group of users attempt to complete tasks at different stages, from early development until a product’s release. It is carried out in a controlled environment, such as a lab or designated room or online 1-to-1 session. 

Guerrilla testing is considered a subset of usability testing and takes a more agile approach to testing a prototype, product or website. High-level feedback is derived to find and fix potential UX issues. Guerrilla testing can also be performed at various stages in the project’s life cycle. 

Benefits of Guerrilla Testing

Guerrilla testing offers numerous advantages to product developers, such as:

  • Quick¬†turnaround as there is no waiting around for recruiters to find people with specific qualifications or attributes.¬†
  • Inexpensive compared to formal testing as there are no travel costs for users.
  • It enables testers to identify any UX barriers¬†early in the development process.
  • It is iterative and works well with an agile project approach.
  • It provides sufficient or enough insights to inform strategic design decisions.¬†
  • Guerrilla research is flexible and can be squeezed into nearly every timetable or deadline.
  • It can be utilized to demonstrate the value of user testing/research for stakeholders, especially for those who may struggle to acknowledge the value of usability testing.
  • It is a great way to do ad hoc user research, whether when conducting competitor analysis for similar ideas or practising moderation skills.¬†
  • It delivers substantial ‚Äúcontext of use‚ÄĚ observations.¬†
  • It provides a lot of ‚Äúusefulness‚ÄĚ feedback in real-life situations.¬†

Shortcomings of Guerrilla Testing

There are, however, some disadvantages that should also be kept in mind:

  • You may not get the right target audience.
  • It could be challenging to record feedback.
  • Sessions are short, so one could lose some of the insights that they would typically get from formal user testing.
  • It may not be really appropriate for all types of websites or mobile apps.
short discussion
Photo by Headway on Unsplash

How to Conduct Guerrilla Testing?

In contrast to recruiting a particular targeted audience to take part in testing sessions, with guerrilla testing, participants are usually approached in public locations and asked to take part.

Since there is no formal recruitment or requirement for expensive research facilities, guerrilla testing sessions are fast and easy to set up and can be conducted anywhere like a coffee shop, library, park. 

It is recommended to test between 6 -12 users, though this can vary depending on who and where you are testing from. Guerrilla testing sessions are typically short (10‚Äď15 minutes) and are structured around specific key research objectives.¬†

If you plan to record the sessions, it is advisable to get participant consent.

Each guerrilla testing session can be initiated with the following number of steps:

  • Approach a potential participant.¬†
  • Politely introduce yourself to potential participants and ask if they would like to partake in the software or product testing session.
  • If they agree, get general information about them.
  • Have them sign a consent form.¬†
  • Give them a few different scenarios.
  • Carefully observe their interactions.
  • Ask about their experience with the product.
  • Thank and reward them for participating.

Tips for Guerrilla Testing 

Following are some tips to help you achieve your testing objectives:

  • Carefully think about all the critical things people need to be able to achieve while using your product, and write down a shortlist of tasks. For instance, if your product is a mobile app for ordering food, you‚Äôll want to test how people find a particular meal, order multiple meals, or add a meal to their cart.
  • After listing your tasks, prioritise them and decide what to exactly test. Then choose the top 3 tasks, and use them to create scenarios users can easily comprehend.
  • Ensure to always create an elaborate scenario based on each task. In essence, a good scenario describes a problem for participants to solve and is relatable, but does not hint to the participant how to achieve the ultimate goal.
  • Before testing scenarios with test participants, ensure to pre-test them with friends and colleagues to ensure that people can follow them without any confusion.¬†
  • Always be ethical and transparent.
  • Understand people‚Äôs expectations even if your design is not fully complete. For instance, use this opportunity to ask them what they might expect to see after clicking on a certain button/link in a User Interface (UI) flow¬†
  • Because guerrilla testing is meant to be an ad hoc technique, it does not mean it should be entirely unplanned. So, make sure you carefully plan how much time you‚Äôre going to ask of users.
  • Always stay polite and ask users if they are okay with you stealing a little more time than planned. Generally, people won‚Äôt be happy if you don‚Äôt respect their time, which may lead to¬†biased or even unhelpful responses¬†to your questions.¬†
  • Avoid always conducting your guerrilla testing in the same places or types of places. Testing at different places will help ensure that you have participants with varied demographics.¬†
ethical
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Guerrilla Testing Questions

As we have established, guerrilla testing is a low-cost usability testing method that helps you quickly answer straightforward usability questions. That being said, guerrilla testing questions vastly differ from those employed in more structured and in-depth research methods.

Principally, guerrilla testing questions are shallower in their depth of insight, and seek to be informal when engaging users. 

What should you not test?

Guerrilla testing should not be employed in specific scenarios like:

  • When domain-specific knowledge is necessary to use a product (for example, when completing specific use-cases in financial or even medical apps). In practice, you cannot expect random people to have all the required skills to deliver satisfactory technical answers.
  • When a highly specific environment is necessitated to conduct testing (for instance, when testing can be done only in a specific location).

Guerrilla Testing Example

Overall, where you conduct guerrilla tests affects how you perform and document your work. For example, if you’re testing a new mobile app for a supermarket chain, you might go to the store itself and walk down the aisles. 

However, if you’re working on a “general” office software suite, you might test it with workers in a different part of an office, etc.¬†

Overall, the idea is to let context drive your decision making. Though public spaces and shopping malls may present some of the best locations for guerrilla testing due to the sheer amount of free foot traffic they receive. Not to mention the relaxed nature of the environment, which can come in handy when approaching strangers.

However, with more particular user sets, you can target subjects based on context and demographics. Furthermore, companies can perform remote guerrilla testing by exploiting public forums such as Reddit, Quora or even LinkedIn Groups, by simply writing a simple post describing the intent and the related incentive.

Takeaway

In conclusion, if you’re seeking quick feedback on your prototype or website, then guerrilla usability tests are the way to go. Guerrilla testing allows you to conduct multiple expedited field usability tests during the course of project development to gain actionable insights into where usability barriers could be.

However, you have to be considerate of the occasional risk of not getting in front of the right target audience, and sessions being much shorter than with formal usability testing. This might limit your ability to get comprehensive insight. 

Nonetheless, guerrilla testing gets you in front of all user types; whether it’s a prospective user, or Peter from down the road, who opens every app under the sun, apart from yours. 

Overall, guerrilla testing is a great way to get your foot in the door to demonstrate the value of spending time with users before launching any final product.

Reach out to us at Netizen Experience to discuss your usability testing needs.

What Is Usability Testing: A Complete Guide

In today’s ultra-competitive technological landscape, software usability is no longer a luxury, but rather a key determinant of productivity and acceptance of mobile and web applications. 

Since websites and mobile applications have become the backbone of modern business and information interactions, the need for usability testing has become critical, now more than ever. 

In today’s blog post, we shall dive into the fundamentals of usability testing and expand on its basic underworkings and importance in the realm of software technology.

What is usability?

In a technological context, usability revolves around how well and how easily a generic user, without formal training, can interact with a computer system, mobile app or website.

What is usability testing?

Sometimes also referred to as User Experience (UX) testing, usability testing is a series of techniques typically employed to measure the ease and user-friendliness of a website or a software application. 

That being said, usability testing usually involves performing specific tasks across users to test the ease and efficiency in which a website or system tasks can be completed. All this is conducted while considering the users’ subsequent satisfaction with their performance. 

In practice, a small set of target end-users focus on exposing usability defects, challenges with the flexibility of the software to handle controls, and issues with a computer program’s ability to meet its objectives.

During usability testing, the user experience researcher typically collects both qualitative and quantitative data relating to the user’s success, speed of performance, and satisfaction to find inherent problems with the user interface or design.¬†

In practice, this qualitative data deals with emotions, human behaviour, and subjective matters, while quantitative data focuses on data and complex numbers. 

The goal of usability testing

As we have established, usability testing can be performed in multiple ways during the life cycle of a project as a way to ensure that one’s software/website/app helps users achieve their goals quickly and easily. 

As such, the ultimate goal of usability testing is to expressly identify any usability issues, collect qualitative and quantitative data and comprehensively determine the users’ satisfaction with the website or web platform. 

In summary, usability testing seeks to determine whether a website or system is:

  • Useful
  • Findable
  • Accessible
  • Usable
  • Desirable

When do usability problems occur?

Most usability problems typically occur when:

  • The design of the website makes its users assume something that isn‚Äôt true.
  • The website or platform is supposed to help a user complete a task, but it does not support the complete task, thus the user has to go and utilise a different tool in order to complete the task.
  • Using the website to complete a task makes the task significantly longer ‚ÄĒ or more disconcerting than not using the web product. As such, users end up feeling stupid, frustrated, confused or slowed down.

Why perform usability testing?

As the sophistication of technology grows daily, the need to pay close attention to usability increases in tandem. As software becomes almost limitless in today’s business world, it‚Äôs becoming more beneficial to improve productivity and streamline user interactions processes.¬†

For example, suppose a consumer finds an e-Commerce website challenging to navigate. In that case, they will not purchase the product, and the e-Commerce business will lose money (and, even possibly, go out of business).

That being said, when companies prioritise and meet the needs and expectations of users, they are more likely to deliver successful services. 

This is where certified usability and accessibility testing comes into play for different organisations worldwide, delivering benefits like increased productivity, error reduction, reduced need for training and support and increased comprehension of the online content and tasks necessary to deliver profitable outcomes.

So, for most users, poor usability may result in an uncontrolled overhead caused by the desire for a user to correct inherent errors and continually relearn sophisticated user interfaces. 

From a business perspective, operating costs are significantly reduced by developing a product appropriately the first time rather than going back and refining, or totally overhauling some aspects of the product.

Primary uses of usability testing and its impact on Products, Apps, or Websites.

1. Feedback delivery

Whenever you want to launch a website or mobile application, usability testing techniques help to provide facts that demonstrate how the market will respond to your value proposition. 

As such, it helps to expose potential user acceptance issues before a public release, to enable website owners to further optimise an interface pre-launch, so that when the website is finally released, it delivers the best impression and builds trust in the minds of clients.

2. Better user experience 

In the same token, usability testing works to aid in the design of better experiences for all users who access the software/app/website.  

This is imperative to keep more users for longer, extend customer loyalty, lead to greater word of mouth, thus, more profits.

3. Improves conversion rate

Effective usability testing shows how a slight change in a website or campaign could change customer behaviour. This way, website owners can find out the triggers that work for their apps or products, or what prevents potential customers from converting.

4. Identification & elimination of onboarding issues

For the most part, usability tests assist website owners to analyse inherent issues with their training materials, tutorials, videos, and onboarding process that serve to help users master a web or mobile-based product. 

Relatedly, it also helps to search and fix these problems, which leads to better retention rates and higher return of interest.

5. Recognising and understanding user issues

Usability tests expose task flow and usage issues like checkout or signup or onboarding for all the required features in the application or website. 

It basically works to ensure that the least technologically versed users can complete all their tasks with less training to keep them on the site longer (reducing bounce rate).

Furthermore, since user-centred design is the gold standard nowadays for designing apps and websites, usability testing research is standard practice to better understand the users’ requirements in order to validate the best designs for the users based on their behaviour.

Advantages of Usability Testing

  • Ascertains whether users (participants) are able to complete specific tasks successfully, or not. And if not, it exposes the roadblocks.
  • Drastically reduces the risk of end customers catching mistakes or unnecessary features on a website.
  • It helps to identify how long it takes to complete specified tasks.
  • It helps to find out how satisfied users are with a website or mobile product.
  • Helps to comprehensively dissect user pain points, to provide developers with detailed design solutions to improve user performance and satisfaction.
  • Provides scope for improvement with a detailed view of a website‚Äôs pros, cons, and scopes for improvements, all based on reality.¬† With this information, developers can even add extra features based on what the data reveals to gain an advantage over competing websites.

When is usability testing appropriate?

Generally, usability defects are mostly injected at the requirements definition or design stages of the project. 

The types of usability defects injected at the implementation stage are usually minor. This means that one can identify the most significant ones by conducting walkthroughs or usability tests on wireframes or UI/UX mockups.

Overall, usability testing operations are mainly carried out pre-release so that any considerable issues identified can be addressed. 

However, usability tests can be carried out at different stages of the design process, but techniques like walkthroughs are often more appropriate. 

It’s also important to note that usability testing is not a substitute for a human-centred design process.

Factors that affect usability testing

As we have already alluded to, excellent website design is usually achieved by maximising two factors: usability and visual appeal. The main factors that affect website usability are:

  • Information architecture
  • Navigation
  • Jargon and terminology used
  • Design of user-input forms
  • Page-layout.

For the most part, usability tests provide insight into how users interact with these factors and without this testing, it’s not easy to tell if a website is really usable or not. 

So, observing how users actually employ a website can reveal underlying issues that designers and software programmers are simply unable to recognise themselves.

Questions usability testing can assist with finding

  • Issues within your design, workflow, or process¬†
  • Validate whether a particular design if it works for most users¬†
  • Provide actionable insights into both good and poor issues with an interface¬†
  • Provide different perspectives and mental models on an interface or issues that are faced by users of the product¬†
  • Raise the level of awareness of the website owners, demonstrate the benefits of testing, and show how important it is to obtain feedback from users.

Types of usability testing approaches

There are multiple types of usability tests that can be performed across websites, apps and software, and these can be employed depending on what the end goal is. 

Typically, insights gathered from these different usability tests can be utilised to design the user flows or the visual hierarchy that improves the overall user experience. For example:

Comparative usability tests

These usability tests involve end-users choosing the best of two or more solutions. They are mainly carried out to check the effectiveness of a website against competitors, find out if there are any shortcomings and then address them if need be.

They are typically done by comparing the different user interfaces with each other, and carefully observing usability metrics like error rates, task completion and time spent on each task.

Exploratory or formative usability tests

Exploratory usability tests are more of an open-ended approach that differs from comparative testing, where participants are encouraged to think aloud. 

They are typically performed during the initial stages of development to judge how end-users might react to a website design. Therefore it is also common for the test to be run on paper prototype or non-fully functioning prototype for specific user journey.. 

In practice, getting these results early helps create a fully informed process with the exact needs of one’s target audience in mind. 

Their overall goal is to establish if users can distinguish between different elements and features of an app or website and appreciate the inherent value of the application’s functionality.

Summative usability tests

Most people are referring to a summative test when they say usability testing. 

A summative test is used to evaluate the overall usability of a product be it a website or app. 

Summative tests can also be designed based on the insights collected during previous exploratory tests, where the product team would focus on testing the usability of specific aspects of the design. 

For example, how many errors users made when completing a certain task using an improved design compared to the previous design.  

Summative testing is usually carried out during the initial, mid to late phase of the product development cycle when users are able to interact with a more developed or fully developed clickable prototype. 

Users are also asked to ‚Äėthink aloud‚Äô when conducting the summative usability test so that the researchers are able to understand why the users are struggling and measure their attitudes towards the design.¬†

Validation usability tests

Validation or verification testing is used as an evaluation to determine if the product usability meets certain predefined usability criteria. Validation usability tests deliver high value when done at the late stage of the product development cycle. 

Even though users are given tasks to complete in the verification test, they are not requested to ‚Äėthink aloud‚Äô or interrupted halfway for questions.

Validation usability testing is generally used to collect quantitative data, which means that the sample size of such testing can reach hundreds or thousands of respondents. 

In order to ease the process of usability testing with a large sample size, remote unmoderated test method is usually used. 

Key quantitative usability testing metrics that are collected include time on task, error rate, completion rate, attempts before getting it right etc. These quantitative data make it easier to benchmark against the company‚Äôs predetermined internal target, the existing design performance, and competitor’s performance.¬†¬†¬†

Types of processes involved or performed as part of usability testing

  • Usability test objectives¬†
  • Usability risks identification
  • User or respondent recruitment
  • User survey
  • User experience evaluation by users
  • Usability issues analysis
  • Usability test report

An example of how user testing works

Usability testing revolves around a series of activities where users perform specific tasks within a computer application or website to report issues, problems or satisfaction levels. 

Typically, the timeframe consumed in total for each task separately is recorded.

For example, if testing an e-commerce Home page, a test task for users could include:

  • Judging the user’s ability to tell what the site is all about, what it offers. Generally, determining their first impressions of the website.
  • Judging if users can see a particular product of interest at first glance.
  • Ascertaining the main navigation of the website, and if it helps users to find necessary information.

All things considered, usability testing can be much more intricate than described above, but overall, it’s mainly based on the persona’s use case scenarios.¬†

Since single websites or mobile applications could have different use cases and personas, separate usability tests need to be conducted with different goals, questions and tasks.

Types of usability research methods

It is noted that usability testing is one of the research methods under the bigger umbrella of usability research. You would need to evaluate the type of insights you want to gather in order to determine the best usability research method to use.

 There are several ways that usability research can be carried out as we cover below:

  • Automatic evaluation methods: Here, software is utilised to evaluate a mobile app or website and find underlying problems, such as missing pages or links, or pages that load slowly.¬† (note: this method does not involve the user)
  • Cognitive walkthrough: usability specialists assess how well a website interface supports first-time users while they experiment with learning how to complete a task. (note: this method does not involve the user)
  • Heuristic evaluation: Here, usability specialists informally examine a user interface to judge how well it conforms to recognised usability principles.¬† (note: this method does not involve the user)
  • ¬†Remote testing: Here, the user and the tester are in different locations. For example, usability tests can be conducted via webinar with the tester watching the user use the interface.
  • Moderated usability testing: Here, the moderator would facilitate the user testing and users will give comments while performing specific tasks and explain what they are exactly thinking or why they are performing a certain activity.

Other notable usability research methods are:

  • Unmoderated Usability testing
  • Moderated Usability testing
  • Guerilla testing
  • Lab Usability testing
  • Card Sorting
  • Tree Sorting
  • A/B Testing
  • 5-second test
  • Eye-tracking
  • Screen Recording

Also read our article on ‚ÄúBest practices for remote usability testing‚ÄĚ

Conclusion

All things considered, websites and mobile applications have become an essential communication medium in modern times. 

This means that usability testing forever remains an inexpensive way to gather valuable feedback from representative users to help web designers and content creators make their websites more usable and relevant to their audiences.

So, our final takeaways are:

  • Usability testing is a non-functional testing approach that measures how easily a system can be used by end-users.
  • Usability testing is typically done to verify how much a web application is user friendly to an end-user.
  • Usability testing is always done to ensure that the GUI is well designed and easily used.

For more information, follow our ‚ÄúUsability testing Guide‚ÄĚ