Usability testing assesses how easy it is for a user to get from A to B. That’s to say, if someone is using your application, it should be simple for them to accomplish the action they’re looking to complete.
For example, if you’re using a website to buy a computer, how straightforward is the process from when you land on the website through checkout? Is navigation clear, does the application load quickly enough, do buttons do what they’re supposed to, are informational forms uncomplicated? Additionally, you have to consider visual design elements that can either make or break the user experience.
The usability of a web application embodies this entire user experience, and usability testing evaluates everything from performance and UI/UX to responsive design. It ensures that current and potential customers are happy with your application and will continue to come back.
Usability Testing Methods
While there are many components to consider when thinking about optimum usability, there are a few methods that will give you the best glimpse of your website and how well it functions.
User testing requires having real people use your app to see how well it functions from a nonbiased and unfamiliar perspective. You can either recruit family and friends to try using the app or find focus groups that are willing to explore different features and functionalities.
While it should be manageable to find people who are willing to test your application and give feedback, there are also companies who are dedicated to setting up user testing services for you. For example, UserTesting provides videos of real users in your target audience navigating your web or mobile app and sharing their thoughts. In addition, the service provides metrics and written feedback so you can reference a real user analysis as you integrate changes.
No matter whether you seek out your own users or hire a company, watching how real people use and interact with software is highly beneficial to understanding user stories and insights.
Getting feedback from users can be just as valuable after they’ve completed their task as during. By implementing customer satisfaction surveys after someone has purchased a project or completed a trial on your website, they can focus on fulfilling their task and evaluate the overall process once it’s finished.
SurveyMonkey is one of the top questionnaire development companies, and they even supply questions and templates specifically for website feedback. Rather than only looking at whether or not a user converted to a customer, finding out why they did not can help you target pain points and make improvements.
As customer support begins to take the forefront of successful business models, being able to address feedback straight from the source is invaluable. By actually listening to what users have to say about what they’re looking for in something and what it’s lacking, you can make changes that in turn will elicit customer loyalty and create a product they’re more likely to advocate for.
A/B testing is where you share two versions of one product (version A and version B) to see which one performs better. These changes can be complete website redesigns or something as minimal as a button saying “Click here” v.s. “Sign up” or changing it between red and green. Almost anything can be A/B tested to find out what engages the most customers.
Using analytics, you then compare which one users had a better experience with. This can be based on the time on page, bounce rate, or most commonly, conversion rate. Additionally, you can also request customer feedback asking why users preferred one version over the other.
Similar to user testing and customer surveys, there are companies you can use for complete A/B testing such as Optimizely. By showing half of you traffic the original web page design and half the modified design and then analyzing responses through a statistical engine, Optimizely helps you make data-informed decisions about your web page to determine what the end-user prefers. Ultimately, A/B testing helps you make changes that contribute to the best version of your app.
Leave it to the Experts
While the recent testing trends have been revolving around automation, there’s still a critical place for manual testing, especially when it comes to usability.
Software testers are able to look at an app from different perspectives, handle it as a user would, and test its limits. While real user testing is undoubtedly beneficial to complement the work of a professional software tester, there’s no replacing their position when it comes to determining quality. Since they’re trained and knowledgeable about the way software works and removed from the development process, they’re in the best position to make decisions about what an application may need from a more technical perspective.
Manual testers are particularly skilled in this area and also have valuable proficiency with tools like CrossBrowserTesting screenshots to compare a website across different browsers and devices. Meanwhile, testers that are familiar with automation techniques can also prove their worth when it comes to usability testing as they know how to leverage a different set of tools, such as Selenium, which can be used to automate tests across different browsers and devices.
Having somebody that’s able to perform more complicated tasks like cross-browser testing to ensure that a website works for any user on any device means that you’re always addressing end-to-end usability without leaving any gaps in quality.
Usability testing is important because, often times, when developers and designers are working on a web application, it’s hard to remove themselves when testing and leave behind their pre-disposed knowledge of how it works to think as an end-user.
Recruiting real users, leveraging data, and employing software testers will give your website the competitive edge it needs in usability whether it’s a new page or a new iteration.