27 Aug 2019
27 Aug 2019
Enterprises and businesses are in a fast-paced environment thinking all the time about a faster time to market and quicker return on their investments. But, in reality with the ever-changing user expectations, there is an emerging need for businesses to concentrate on their software’s usability which includes the ease of usage of the application or the product along with the efficiency of the interfaces. In recent years, Usability testing is taking an uptrend in order to meet the user expectations through enabling an effective user interface that generates great user experience (UX).
Usability testing is a unique and effective way to identify and fix any product or application related usability issues and ensures to deliver an amazing UX for the end-users. It is like a black box testing of an application to ascertain if the product built is convenient to use and easy to learn. It is typically an assessment of how easy is it to use the software’s user interface along with the ease of navigation of the app’s flow. Especially, it is the user interface which is the key to success for all mobile applications and for websites that deal with e-commerce applications.
The basic idea behind the usability software testing is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, identify any pain points, inefficient loading of screens or any other hindrances that might occur while using the product. This sort of user experience testing should necessarily be a critical component of any software development lifecycle (SDLC) as it can help businesses to get the desired product with all relevant features at a first-hand. It further helps to protect your brand and ensures higher ROI when once the software is launched into the market. Such applications that are tested for their usability are bound to deliver greater success and helps to be ahead of your competitors. Moreover, if the application does not meet the user expectations, then the entire purpose of application development is lost at a higher end.
According to one of the Forbes Technology Council post, it states that Usability testing should start as soon as there are tasks for a user to complete, because the earlier that product teams can start getting feedback from users on what they are building, the better it is.
It is to be noted that many businesses and even enterprises of mid-sized or large, are not factoring usability testing in their SDLC workflow. Some of the reasons could be, “It’s too expensive, it’s not in our budget,” or “We don’t need to do user testing, or is it so important now or let’s just focus on other testing aspects.” But, in reality, usability testing services are needed to know about the various aspects related to the real-time usability of their software, and hence is a need today for businesses to make use of these services and be in-line with the advantages it brings about.
1. Provides insights on product/apps learning curve variations:
The learning curve behind the software or the application should be the least as today’s users have very less time to even take a second to understand the functionality. If there is complexity in the usability, then they will dump that web or mobile app and might move to the nearest competitor. Hence, by performing usability testing in the right way, at the right time with the right set of people, it reduces the risk of building the wrong product; thereby saving time, money and other precious resources. Further, if it is done at an early stage when the product is at the paper prototyping stage, it helps to find the user issues quickly and it could work out cheaper to fix them. It also helps to understand the user’s success rate and time spent to complete a particular task. There are many success cases where usability testing has proved to be a good exercise in terms of ROI.
2. Defines the ease of application usage:
Usability testing being a black box testing technique, establishes whether the users feel at ease with the application or with the website they use. The ease of usage is bound to deliver better end-user retention and ensures more downloads in case of mobile apps and helps to uphold brand identity.
3. Delivers first-hand information on user interface perspectives:
Usability tests help identify if there is any preliminary design issue or any other intervening issues with the user interface at the first level. It helps to throw insights on certain issues that could not be thought about at the initial designing phase.
4. Furnishes real-time usability insights early:
The goal of usability testing is to better understand how real-time users interact with your product and how best to improve the product usage based on the results. In a typical usability test, real-time users try to accomplish formulated goals or tasks with a product under controlled conditions to derive defined results.
5. Delivers quicker design inputs with stakeholder’s participation:
Usually, all the stakeholders should be equally involved as each might have a different view point for a design decision. Being subjective by nature, design decision often leads to long debates among stakeholders. Thus, most often design decisions are influenced by stakeholders and such interactions helps in iterating and validating design concepts effectively. It gives objectivity to design debates and it helps in taking fact-based design decisions early.
6. Uplifts especially Omni-channel experience: When you log on to an e-commerce application or a website and if it fails to give the desired and required experience, then it adversely affects the brand’s loyalty. Usability tested applications lure customers with effective UX and sustain their interest in the brand and users continue to prefer the same brand over competitors due to its significant ease of usage and excellent UX.
These Usability tests can be conducted at different stages of the applications design process. They are broadly divided into the Formative tests and Summative tests.
Formative Tests: These are usually the low profile tests that are conducted to gain insights through prototypes. They are usually conducted during the very initial development phase using paper prototypes which can be done anywhere and a formal lab is not required. Moreover, these tests can also be done just between a moderator and a participant. This method helps observe the behavior of the users to find out what works and what doesn’t work. Users are given specific tasks to complete and observers watch their body language, facial expressions, emotions and encourage them to “think aloud” i.e. speak up whatever comes to their mind while using the product. Some of the results of a formative test may be in the form of user comments such as emotions or any visible action changes.
Summative Tests: These tests are of high profile nature and are related towards the metrics capture. These tests are usually carried out at the end of the development stage and at this stage usability of a product is validated which gives answers to how usable is the product, or draws a strong comparison against its competitor products. It is conducted in usability labs or remotely using many tools available where users can perform the tests using their computers or using their mobile phones.
Usability testing is needed for all business applications as it gives a piece of first-hand information about whether the product meets the user expectations and is very helpful for getting user reactions and feedback about the product. Hence, businesses need to leverage usability testing services to gain insights about their product in advance and be sure of their product’s success and eventually safeguard their brand.