How To Perform Usability Testing For Your Websites?
Manual Testing • Usability Testing •
30720 Views | 8 Min Read
When you visit a website, like Amazon, eBay, etc., what is the one thing that makes you stay there? Is it the design, offers, or the fact that you can use it easily and find relevant information or product effortlessly? Though all these factors are crucial for retaining a visitor, it is the ease of usability and satisfied user experience that guarantees your happiness and encourages you to stay on a website longer.
So, what is this usability and why is it so critical for your websites?
Nowadays, when the number of competitors is increasing rapidly, design and content are not enough to retain users, it also requires engaging, intuitive, and responsive user experience, which should be considered by the designers and development teams during the development phase.
Usability, which is defined by ISO as “the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in the specified context of use” is therefore, an integral part of a web site and is ensured with the assistance of usability testing.
The question then arises:
What is usability testing and how it helps ensure the usability of a website?
Asking people to review your work, might be a time-consuming task, but it always works in your favor. This process can be applied to any discipline, especially to improve the user experience.
Usability testing is one such method of user research or review, which is used to validate the design decisions for an interface as well as to verify its quality, accessibility, and usability by testing it with representative users. It helps create a website/product that connects with users and establishes credibility, builds trust, and ensures customer satisfaction.
Usually conducted by the UX Designer or user researcher during each iteration of the product, it enables them to uncover various issues with the website’s user experience and resolve them to ensure it is usable enough.
Hence, usability testing ensures that the interface of a website is built in a way that it accurately fits the user’s expectations and requirements. Moreover, it determines whether it is user-friendly and if users will come back to it or not.
Methods used to test your website:
An area of expertise of UX/UI designers and developers, usability testing, is performed with the assistance of various methods, which help the team accumulate necessary details about the website’s usability.
Popular testing methods are:
A/B testing or split testing is used for experimental analysis, wherein two versions are compared by the team to choose the best version of the website or its component and to determine the one that performs best.
It uses a qualitative and quantitative analysis that validates the intended goal.
Remote Usability Testing:
Another important method of usability or user testing, remote usability testing is used when the user and researcher are in different geographical locations. This test is moderated by an evaluator interacting with the participants using various screen sharing tools.
It offers developers more realistic insight than lab research and allows them to conduct more research in shorter period of time.
In co-discovering learning, users are grouped together to test the product, while being observed. Test users talk naturally with one another and are encouraged to define what they are thinking about while performing the allocated task.
This helps measure the time taken to complete different tasks as well as the instances where the users asked for assistance, among other things
Expert reviews involve UX experts who review the product for any potential issues or defects, which are evaluated by them with the assistance of the following techniques:
- Heuristic Evaluation
- Cognitive Walkthrough
This method of usability testing is used to capture physiological data of user’s conscious and unconscious experiences of using the website. During this testing, the motion of the eye, its movement and position are tracked, to analyze user interactions and time between clicks.
It helps identify the most eye-catching, confusing, and ignored features on the website.
But wait, there’s more:
Apart from these testing methods, there are other effective methods that do not require any test lab and can be executed without investing in any technical efforts.
Questionnaires, Surveys, & Interviews:
An effective method of usability testing, questionnaires, surveys, & interviews involves asking several questions from the users, which helps the researches get informative feedbacks in real time.
Performed when there is a requirement for a large number of opinions, these methods help avoid ambiguity and deliver structured information.
Realistic Scripts & Scenarios:
This method of usability testing involves both developers and tester, who work together on a preplanned test scenario and imitate the steps that a user while accessing the website.
They act as user and replicate the anticipated steps a user takes, which are then assessed by the developers to improve the website’s usability.
Drawing on Paper:
Drawing on paper is a popular & cost effective method of usability testing used by designers and developers, wherein they create a website prototypes on a paper and let users test it and its various components, like controls, bars, sliders, etc.
This is an effective testing technique as it allows the developers to gain relevant feedback on the paper prototypes easily.
Think Aloud Protocol:
Also known as lab usability testing, think aloud protocol, is a qualitative data collection technique, used to understand the user’s own reasons for their website usability behavior.
During this process, test sessions are either audio or video recorded for developers future reference.
Whether a website or an app, these methods of usability evaluators can be used by the team to get real users data, which can be utilized to make the product suitable for the target audience.
Now, let’s move on to understanding the process of usability testing.
Process of Website Usability Testing:
The process of usability testing is a simple one and can be executed either by the developers, testers or appointed users. It follows a set of five steps which are:
The test begins with the team identifying the goals and defining the scope of testing. Furthermore, they agree upon the metrics, determine the cost of usability study and create the test plan and test strategy.
Once the necessary plan is prepared, the team and the resources are assembled and the tasks are assigned accordingly. Finally, the team lead or manager decides the reporting tools and templates, which will be used for test execution.
It is in this stage of the process that the team performs the usability test, during which they communicate the scope of testing and capture unbiased results.
After test execution, the team categorizes the results and identifies the patterns among them, which are then used to generate inferences.
Finally, once the analysis of the results is completed, the team offers actionable recommendations as well as stakeholder briefing, to help rectify issues and to remove any issues regarding the testing.
Advantages Offered by Usability Testing:
By investing in usability testing, you will not only make your users and potential clients happy but also reap various other benefits, which might help you increase your ROI and create a renowned reputation in the market.
We’re not through yet:
You will also enjoy various other benefits, like:
Improve Retention Rate:
Retaining customers is an important source of income for the organization in the retail world. By conducting usability testing organizations can improve retention rate, as it allows them to understand why users are leaving their site and take necessary preventive measures.
It is comparatively cheaper to conduct usability testing, rather than creating a new website or redesigning a one that does not meet the requirements of the user and offers them an unsatisfactory user experience.
Understand User Behavior:
From determining the most engaging elements on the website to identifying the pattern of user behavior, usability testing helps the team immensely and offers them data which can be used to create a better website.
Detect Bugs & Defects:
Usability testing is immensely helpful in detecting defects and bugs that were not visible to the developers.
Reduce Support Calls:
By conducting usability testing, the team can minimize the number of support calls or inquiries users will have to make to the help desk, as they’ll come across fewer usability problems and queries.
So, these are the various ways to perform usability testing for your website.
Now I’d like to turn it over to you:
Which of these methods do you like the most and which one do you find to be the most effective and useful?
Also, if you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments section below.
Note: This guest blog post is contributed by Tanushree Shukla from ThinkSys.
Written by Tanushree Shukla
Tanushree Shukla is a Software Engineer at ThinkSys. An expert in Usability Testing.
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