Why online usability testing works

Tomer Sharon
Apr 8, 2017 · 3 min read
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Online usability testing for Web products and mobile apps is a quick, reliable way of answering the question “Can people use the product?” Compared to traditional, in-person usability testing, conducting online usability testing has several advantages:

  • You won’t need to moderate. Moderating usability tests is a skill that requires a lot of knowledge, practice, and experience. In online usability testing, you’ll prepare tasks and questions, click a button, and then participants will get everything you’ve prepared for them, do it, click a button, and then you’ll get all the data.
  • Significantly reduced hassle of finding participants. Finding people who qualify, are willing, and available to participate in a usability test is a tedious, time-consuming, and sometimes expensive task. Online usability testing can save you a lot of these efforts and sometimes even do all of it for you.
  • Access to broader audiences. While in-person usability testing limits you to invite research participants from the area where the test is being held, online usability testing does not have that limitation. Participants can come from anywhere. In many cases, this flexibility will be a huge advantage for you because participants will represent your true target audience better.

Online usability testing is an effective user research technique that carries the following benefits:

  1. Quick, cheap, and easy: A qualitative online usability test can be completed in 24 hours or less. A quantitative study will last a couple of days.
  2. Involves real people: It allows the team to observe real people use the product. No more, “We use the product, so we know how usable it is.”
  3. Provides immediate product usability feedback: Input from participants is clear and immediate. Team members who watch videos get a pat on their backs or a hammer on their fingers within seconds or minutes.
  4. Eliminates redundant arguments: The clear feedback coming from real people, external to the organization that develops the product resolves many team dilemmas, arguments, and slow decision-making processes.
  5. Eye-opening experience: It instantly tells the team about people’s motivations, perceptions, and behavior.

Chapter 6 on my book, Validating Product Ideas Through Lean User Research, walks you through an 8-step process for running an online usability test with either 5 or 500 participants.

Tomer Sharon is the author of Validating Product Ideas Through Lean User Research. Get a 20% discount when you purchase the book directly at Rosenfeld Media using the code tomernews.

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