When it comes to building a software product, there are no more or less important development stages. Each of them aims to ensure that the future solution meets business goals, solves the users’ problem most effectively, is adopted by the market, and drives revenue in the long run. Usability testing is one of the phases your startup should go through to make sure the future solution has no usability issues and your UI/UX ideas actually match your users’ expectations.
So, let’s find out why testing website usability is the step you can’t skip and how to make sure your future project is positioned for success in the long run.
What Is Usability Testing—Definition and Benefits
Mobile app or website usability testing ensures your future solution works exactly as it should. Usually, it involves a focus group of target users whose task is to test the clickable prototype and share their feedback. Then, software developers have to analyze, identify areas for improvement, and adjust UI/UX accordingly. The core goal of usability testing for websites is to make informed and data-driven design decisions, spot the possible user interface design flaws in the earlier development stage and continue building a software solution with confidence.
At the same time, don’t mix up user testing with usability testing. User testing is a broader concept that covers usability testing as well and can refer to any type of activity that involves the target users, for example, functional or integration testing.
Now that the usability testing definition is clear, let’s discover the benefits it provides to startups and companies eager to develop top-notch software.
- Improving user experience. Enhanced UX is the main advantage of usability testing, as it allows for discovering what kind of experience your target users want—and delivering it to them, creating a competitive edge at the same time.
- Identifying user pain points and frustrations. Another benefit of usability testing of a website is that you can better understand your users by observing how they interact with a web or mobile app. With these insights in mind, you can create highly-effective journeys custom-matched to user needs.
- Enhancing ease of use and efficiency. Ensuring intuitiveness, ease of use and user-friendliness is one of the main goals that usability testing of a website or mobile app helps achieve. What’s more, designers don’t have to be guided only by design trends and their assumptions. Instead, they can leverage user feedback and make the necessary usability improvements accordingly.
- Streamlining navigation and information architecture. By observing how users interact with menus, links, search functionalities, and content organization, designers and developers can create more logical and intuitive flows, balancing simplicity and efficiency.
- Reducing development costs and time. Running UX usability testing allows for identifying possible mistakes at the prototyping stage. During this phase, they are less costly and time-consuming to fix. Such a proactive approach ultimately leads to a more effective development process, enabling both design and development teams to stay on the right track.
- Increasing user satisfaction and loyalty. Solutions built with user feedback incorporated give users an impression that the app was created for them personally and specifically. This is a solid foundation for building loyalty and brand advocacy, which you can lay in the product design and development stage.
Types of Usability Testing
There are several types of app usability testing, and leveraging them all can deliver 360-degree user insights. Let’s take a look at each of them.
- Exploratory testing. As the name of this approach suggests, as a part of this type of testing focus group, users are welcome to explore the product as they would like to. No specific tasks or clear instructions are given to them. The major benefit of this type of testing is the opportunity to understand what impression the product makes on the users, how quickly they understand how to interact with it, and what stumbling blocks they face.
- Comparative testing. Comparative testing is a way to go when there are several design solutions, and the development team needs to figure out which one appeals to the users most. This type of testing also opens an opportunity to determine the strengths and weaknesses of all the prototypes created and combine the best ideas into a single solution.
- Task-based testing. During task-based usability testing, the development team gives the users certain tasks they should perform. The goal of the testing process is to identify how well the users coped with the task, what obstacles they faced, and what their general interaction experience is like.
- Remote testing. In the case of remote usability testing, you don’t have a focus group in your office personally. Instead, you can test your product for usability with the help of screen-sharing or video conferencing tools to observe users remotely as they complete tasks or interact with a product.
- Mobile app usability testing. As the name suggests, mobile usability testing aims to ensure that the created UI/UX matches the specifics of using mobile apps, considering constraints like small screens, touch-based interactions, and varying connectivity conditions.
- Accessibility testing. Accessibility testing assesses the usability of a product for users with disabilities and is an essential stage of creating inclusive applications. Some of the accessibility testing techniques include but aren’t limited to keyboard-only testing, screen reader testing, assistive technology testing, and so on.
6 Stages of the Usability Testing Process
Now, let’s find out what the usability testing process for a website looks like.
1. Test planning and preparation
Before website usability testing begins, it is necessary to define its goal and corresponding types. There are several types of website usability testing—and many methods as well. To choose and use the right ones, you must clearly define the test objectives. At this stage, you will also have to establish the scope and methodology, plus identify the core metrics and choose the right tools.
Suppose your goal is to evaluate the eCommerce website checkout feature’s ease of use. In this case, you have to conduct task-based testing, where the users should add some items to the cart, navigate to checkout and complete a payment process. The test moderator should observe the participant’s interaction and analyze usability metrics such as task completion, errors made, and user satisfaction rating.
2. Participant selection and recruitment
Once the goals of the testing process are clearly defined, you can proceed with selecting and attracting testing participants. For example, if you are going to build an eCommerce website selling luxury bags, a teenager’s opinion will probably not have any significant value. Long story short, you have to select the representative participants correctly, taking into account their gender (if appropriate), location, education, family status, lifestyle, and all other impact factors.
Guided by your target user persona, you can begin attracting users on social media or invite them to take part in a test using dedicated platforms like Trymata or Userlytics.
3. Test environment setup
This involves preparing the testing environment, including setting up any necessary hardware, software, or equipment and ensuring the testing environment is comfortable, well-lit, and distraction-free.
4. Test moderation and data collection
At this stage, you have to actually run the test and collect data. For example, if you decide to leverage the user feedback collection platform we’ve mentioned above, you will receive user-created videos. There, each of them will describe how they performed your test tasks, what frustrated them, and the possible obstacles.
5. Data analysis and interpretation
After the test is over and the data is gathered, it’s time to analyze the information and extract valuable insights. In addition to manual analysis, you can also use usability testing software that comes with data analysis features.
6. Reporting and recommendations
Preparing a usability testing report and developing data-driven recommendations for further improvement is the last stage of website usability testing. To provide a comprehensive understanding of usability issues and user experiences, the testing iteration usually ends with an overview of the test, which includes:
- quantitative metrics (such as success rates, completion times, and satisfaction ratings);
- qualitative feedback (such as direct quotes or observations).
A usability testing report should also highlight key findings that will further guide the design and development team. One of the best practices to visualize the user testing findings is to use charts, graphs, and examples.
7. Iterative usability testing
Also, keep in mind that both mobile and web usability testing is an iterative process. That means you will have to run usability tests through the software development lifecycles, testing each new feature every time. Running design iteration-based usability tests also allows you to discover new directions for software development by analyzing user feedback and suggestions for further improvement. Ultimately, this leads to increased product acceptance and wider adoption.
Overcoming Challenges in Usability Testing
Although one of the main goals of usability testing is to future-proof the website or app from costly errors, making critical mistakes when testing for usability is also possible. The matter is that usability testing is a multifaceted and complex process involving a human factor. So, below are the main challenges you may face and practice-proven tips on how to test your future solutions without errors.
- Limited resources and time constraints. Although most startups have to be developed under time and budget pressure, this may significantly impact the quality of the user testing results. To overcome the challenge of limited resources and time constraints, prioritize the issues you want to test. Remote usability testing, in turn, is an option to unlock user insights at an affordable cost.
- Addressing bias and subjectivity. Bias and subjectivity, in turn, may affect the user testing results interpretation. For example, confirmation bias is a tendency to interpret test results as the researcher initially expected. To get rid of this and other biases, you have to clearly define evaluation criteria and make sure all testers follow a standardized test protocol.
- Balancing between too few and too many test participants. Determining the optimal number of test participants can be challenging. Inviting too many means increasing the testing budget, while having too few participants may lead to some critical usability issues going unnoticed. The best practice in this case would be to invite 5-10 focus group members.
- Dealing with diverse user backgrounds and needs. This challenge becomes especially relevant when you have to develop an international project targeting a wide user group, such as a hotel booking website. In that case, it would be logical to assume that users from different countries may have different backgrounds, habits, and expectations. To address this challenge, it is necessary to segment them into groups with similar characteristics to ensure a comprehensive understanding of usability across different user personas.
Usability testing of websites and mobile apps is crucial in ensuring the future software product’s success. The diverse methods of usability testing and different usability testing types allow startup businesses to get a first-hand insight into their UI/UX effectiveness, intuitiveness, and user-friendliness. At the same time, mobile and web usability testing can sometimes be challenging, especially when it comes to limited resources, possible bias, and no practical experience in testing future solutions for usability.
At LITSLINK, we know how to make sure that your future solution meets the needs of its users in the most effective way possible. Our team of designers, developers, and business analysts would be happy to offer usability testing services to build a full-fledged tech product ultimately positioned for long-term success and market adoption.
Get in touch with us today to discuss your project requirements and unique needs!