Usability testing provides an opportunity to observe users while they interact with a design, and hence learn and understand not only the problems that occur but, more importantly, why they’re happening. For example, if a user is unable to complete a task in a mobile app, is it because some link labels don’t make sense? Or perhaps the content itself is confusing, or the whole task flow doesn’t meet their expectation. Testing also allows us to empathize with users by learning about how they think. This provides valuable insights and data that allow for effective and efficient design decisions — which also means fewer arguments about the design within the team and the stakeholders!
One of usability testing’s obvious benefits is that it leads to more user-friendly design, but there are other amazing reasons to implement the practice. Usability testing can lead to great results when it comes to comparing design alternatives, checking to see whether design goals are met, getting stakeholder buy-in, and more. The typical steps involved in conducting a usability test are:
- Conducting the test
- Analyzing the results
- Debriefing and reporting
Depending on the design being tested, its objective, and its resource constraints, usability testing can be done through various approaches, including:
- In-person moderated
- Remote moderated
- Remote unmoderated
- Guerilla testing
In my mind, two of the key challenges in conducting a successful usability test are recruiting the right participants and having a skilled moderator. A good moderator must be empathetic, open-minded, and a good listener, and must have the ability to multitask!