#UsabilitiesUnleashed: The Importance of Usability Testing for Your Business

#UsabilitiesUnleashed: The Importance of Usability Testing for Your Business

 

In this 3 week series, #UsabilitiesUnleashed, I’m going to walk you through the basics of usability testing, the importance of such testing, how it’s done, and how it can be done when you have a tight budget.

Here’s what you can expect from this series:

  1. The Importance of Usability Testing for Your Business
  2. How to Create and Run Effective Usability Tests
  3. How to Save Thousands of Dollars When Usability Testing

#UsabilitiesUnleashed: The Importance of Usability Testing for Your Business

So, let’s chat about usability tests themselves. What are they? Why are they useful?

Well, for starters, usability tests are typically a one on one conversation between a moderator and a study participant. The conversation usually revolves around a product, service or experience. The moderator may ask the participant to complete a task or describe their feelings during a certain experience. In this way, a moderator allows the development team to collect qualitative data on the specific experiences in question. These types of test also give deep insight into user behavior and help build a picture of a product-user’s needs.

There are two types of usability testing: formal and informal. Both types of testing are valuable at different stages in the development process.

Informal Usability Testing

This type of testing is often referred to as “Guerilla Usability Testing” and it is most frequently done with early stage prototypes. This means the prototype may not look realistic yet or have refined UI. Typically, at this stage in the process, you’re concept testing and you’re trying to see which ideas or features will stick with your users. This type of testing is great to quickly test the viability of your ideas.

Formal Usability Testing

Once you’ve done a couple rounds of informal usability testing, your team will start to get a feel for which ideas to explore further. After going through some more iteration, you may want to get another round of feedback. This is when formal usability testing can become useful. At this stage in the process, the prototype is starting to look very realistic. Often, you can’t tell the difference between the prototype and the real product! This type of testing will help you and your team refine the product, uncover what is working, and focus in on the problem areas to fix them.

(A little side note here: To learn more about the different ways to get user feedback, checkout step 1 in my FREE e-course, The Basics of Human-Centered Design. You can sign up here to go to the free resources library and access the course!)

I often encourage companies to do both informal and formal usability testing. Each type of testing gives you something different, depending on the stage your product is in. Formal usability testing, however, typically takes more planning and needs more lead time. Because of that, we’re going to focus in on formal usability testing in this series.

Okay, okay, you’re probably thinking, “But won’t usability testing take a lot of time? Is it even worth it? What’s the point of spending time, effort and sometimes money to run a usability study?”

I get it – spending time and resources on a “fake” product seems to be frivolous. But, bear with me for a few minutes. (I promise, there’s going to be an article on run usability testing for less, coming up!)

There are a wide range benefits to usability testing, here are a few of the top reasons I think any company should conduct some type of usability testing…

Save time and money

Spending a bit of time and money up front could save your company and your team tens of thousands of dollars in the future. Usability testing allows you to Quickly uncover pain points and moments of frustration in a product or service. Instead of building the feature out, you’ll be able to mock it up, test it and validate it. This way you know whether the feature in question is good or bad without having to spend engineering effort to build it.

Get to know your users

Usability testing allows you to follow your users’ thought processes and really begin to understand them at a deeper level. These types of one on one conversations often evoke emotion, feelings and ideas from the user. All of these are valuable in the development process. When you intimately know your users, you’ll be able to make decisions on their behalf and build something they truly love.

Put arguments to rest

Often in development teams, there are strong opinions on how a product should be built. (Which then leads to disagreements and sometimes heated debates!) However, decision-making when building a product should not be rooted in opinion. Opinions are subjective and don’t always have the users’ best interests in mind. This is why usability testing can be valuable. You can get sound bytes during participant conversations that help support or break those strong opinions.

Build a better product

Feedback straight from the users on the direction your product is going can make all the difference. You never know what seemingly small thing in the sign up flow of your app is bringing down your entire onboarding experience. Those small nuances are rarely uncovered without watching users and asking questions. Many times you’ll notice little things that users dow that they wouldn’t tell you themselves. When these little things are taken into consideration and accounted for in the design, your product experience improves in leaps and bounds.

Honestly, I could go on and on about why you need to be usability testing your products and experiences with your users… but I won’t (for now). We’re just getting to good stuff!

Stay tuned for the next two posts in the #UsabilitiesUnleashed series! Here’s what to expect in this little bundle of usability goodness:

  1. The Importance of Usability Testing for Your Business
  2. How to Create and Run Effective Usability Tests
  3. How to Save Thousands of Dollars When Usability Testing

In the meantime, I’d love to know…

What is your top reason for conducting usability testing for your product or business?

 

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