Usability testing is like black-box testing of an application to determine if the product built is convenient to use and easy to learn. These are the methods of testing and observing the activities of the user to find out what works and what doesn’t. Using this, we can qualitative and quantitative data and figure out usability issues with a product.
Why is usability testing important?
Doing usability testing the right way, at right time with the right set of people reduces the risk of building the wrong product. It helps in saving time, money and other precious resources. If done at an early stage, it helps in finding the problem when they are easy and cheap to fix. There are numerous cases when usability testing proved to be a good exercise in terms of ROI.
For example, a slight tweak in design suggested by usability testing for Mac’s UI, the company got 90% fewer support calls.
The advantages of early usability testing are discussed below:
One of the prominent overlooked reason for early testing. Expensive errors can be averted by getting early feedback from the target market. This move results in conserving hundreds of engineering hours and thousands of dollars.
An initial paper sketch or wireframe in the design stage is easier to amend and involves less effort than changing a robustly developed HTML page with significant visual designs already incorporated in it.
Saves later design and developing costs
Developers spend a certain amount of time in coding your website or app. But, only when you perform a user test, all kinds of problems are discovered. It is avoidable with user testing prototypes in early stage. The expenses of having a design team or developers for later revisions/page iterations are heavy. These costs can be avoided if they are brought together during at a wire-frame level or paper prototyping level earlier in the process. The confusion and frustration that comes in during a rework can also be avoided.
Identify critical and missing features
Usability tests on live apps apprehend the user behaviour. Certain design features may be critical to your site, but your users may feel otherwise. Early usability tests help you find the differences between your intended design function and the user behaviour. If there are differences among these, then the changes have to be planned for a better user experience.
Missing features and interactions can be spotted quickly during the usability tests. No massive overhaul is needed if your user gets lost in your design. Make a note on features which are of the highest value to your target users and it will be easy to deduce what exactly may be missing from the design itself.
Encourage honest reviews and criticism
Paper prototypes and other Lo-fi prototypes help in gaining honest feedback as it is immediately clear that it’s just a progressing task. When there is a scope for modification, users are willing to give feedback.
Understand user acceptance
Early testing helps you understand the acceptance level of users during initial design processes. It gives designers more confidence on their design features as they have already been through a batch of testing and received feedback. With the received information, it becomes easier for designers to set achievable goals.
Quick and effective alterations
Early usability tests ensure that design changes can be made quickly. It can be incorporated easily in the next stage. Early design testing can provide inputs on broad navigational issues and overall page layout or structure through feedback.
Usability testing can never be too early for a project. Every phase of a successful project lifecycle can be positively informed by user testing. Immediate implementation of user testing is preferable for most projects. But if that seems insurmountable in your current project, then try to get into the habit of user testing early and often. An efficient way of time utilization with usability issues in the project would be to mock up a prototype and run a user test to confirm your assumptions and figure out whether you are heading in the right direction or not.
If you need any support with usable software and usability testing of software, contact one of our experts at TA. We have in-depth experience with software development projects and we’d love to help you out.