An Intro to Usability Testing
The Dos and Don’ts of Usability Testing
Usability testing is a vital part of User Experience (UX) Design. It involves validating a product or service with target users. The aim of usability testing is to determine whether a person with ‘common’ ability can use your product for its intended purpose without feeling lost or confused.
Testing a user’s interaction with a product is one of 5 essential UX Design principles that reveals valuable insights. A UX Designer will regularly facilitate usability tests on a prototype or wireframe to ensure a product’s design is user-friendly and human-centric.
Key Components of Usability
A user-centric product exhibits the following characteristics:
Products should be useful, solving a real problem and easily usable. The learnability of a product and service is also a key component of usability. Products will also be tested for its aesthetics and the emotional response it may elicit from a user.
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√ Usability Dos
- Speak to the User: Use a language, tone, and style that the user would relate to and expect
- Identify a Reasonable Journey: Note specific activities that are typical of your users’ interactions with your product (read more about customer journey maps)
- Set Goals and Measurements for your Test: Each task should relate back to your product’s functionality and the data you’d like to collect. Eg. Does a square button make more sense to a user over a circular button?
- Capture Everything: Collect as much information as possible; whether it’s an email address, payment detail, or contact information
- Use Data to Make Decisions: Focus design decisions only on received information
- Address the Root of the Problem, not the Symptoms: Some responses will be symptomatic of a bigger problem, try to identify the problem, not the cause Ie. poor email open rates may be symptomatic of misspelled email addresses not user disinterest
- Make it Visual: A picture paints a thousand words — make things easier for your users
- Gravitate Towards Minimal Changes: The aim of usability testing is to see if your product works, not to redesign it! In a usability test: Ask open-ended questions and make the participant feel comfortable, provide hints or prompts based on answers received and be concise.
× Usability Dont’s
- Use Product-Specific Terminology: Don’t describe the product and refrain from using technical jargon
- Lead the Participant by Describing the Task: Avoid direction or telling people what they need to do
- Create Dependent Tasks: If something needs more information, provide subsequent tasks
- Mislead the Participant: Don’t direct the participant away from the test. Avoid giving the participant clues with responsive body language, facial expressions, and words.
- Avoid Making Recommendations that are based on opinions, vague or inactionable, creates a new set of problems for users or targets a single type of user.
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