Why Do We Need To Perform Usability Testing

Most of the time, usability is confused with user experience which broadly covers everything from usability, user engagement to visual appeal. User Experience generally captures all the psychological to behavioral aspects of possible user interactions. Usability should be considered only as a subset of user experience. It is usually referred to as the ease with which users are able to complete their intended tasks. There can be many issues which can hinder the completion of tasks.

Usability Testing is an important user-centric approach that considers the user at the center of the development process. Usability testing identifies those areas which can be improved towards achieving a better user experience. The goals of Usability Testing can be listed as follows:

- User Friendliness

- Effectiveness

- Efficiency

- Accuracy

The process of Usability Testing goes through the following phases:

- Planning: Here the critical functionalities and objectives of the system are determined. During this phase the testing method, number,demographics of the testers and the format of test reports are also determined.

- Recruiting: Here the required number of testers is recruited as per the test plan. Testers who match the demographic and professional profiles help in performing a more efficient testing.

- Testing: In this phase, the usability tests are executed.

- Analysis: Here, the data obtained from usability testing are analyzed in order to derive meaningful inferences. It helps to work out possible solutions to improve the overall usability of the software.

- Reporting: The results of the testing process are communicated to all the people involved in order to take future decisions.

Usability Testing can be performed in the following two ways:

Remote Usability Testing — In this kind of testing, the testers and the observers are remotely located. They access the system remotely and perform the tasks assigned to them.

Laboratory Usability Testing — Here the testing is conducted in a lab room along with the observers. They monitor the behavior of the testers and report the test results. Here the observer and the tester are both present in the same physical location.

Best Practices:

- Testing needs to be started at an early stage of design and development.

- Conducting usability testing on the competitor’s product before initiating development is a good practice.

- A mix of expert and non-expert testers should be recruited for testing the system. Their perspectives in testing can yield better results in verifying the efficiency and effectiveness of the system.

- The critical and frequently used functionalities need to be thoroughly tested.

- The results of testing should be interpreted as a sign of improvement rather than a failure.

Conclusion

Usability testing reveals new facts every time it is carried out. Sometimes the facts are informative figures, but most of the time the information is more of a revelation. It gives an idea of the features and functions that are worth implementing and those which need to be discarded. It guides the team about the launch schedule of the software with a consideration of a continually updating the website with new features. It is the best way to launch a better, faster product with a minimum amount of resources invested.

Author Works for Gallop. Gallop Solutions is a 10 year old, US based Colocated Independent Software Testing Services & Specialist QA Staffing Services Company with offices in Dallas and Philadelphia. Our services are backed by Proprietary Testing IP (ETAS) for enhanced productivity and in-house R&D teams.

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