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The What, Why and When of Usability Testing

We all know that a reduced or sub-par end-user experience will impact your bottom-line. How can you ensure your products work as intended every time and have a high level of confidence that every customer will love it?

Confidence in your digital products will remain high when you engage with Digital Assurance services, and I want to discuss one aspect of that, Usability Testing.

Software development teams are often the unsung heroes trying to make apps that people will love to use. This is where GlobalStep can assist. You don’t need to go it alone. You need a partner that can provide peace of mind.

So, let’s get started. Below are some key considerations for Usability Testing. Keep in mind that Usability Testing is part of any broader Digital Assurance initiative responsible for ensuring your confidence in your digital products.

What is it?

Usability testing is traditionally a method of testing an app, website, game or software’s functionality and observing how users interact with the product. More specifically identifying “Goals” that a user will want to achieve within the product.

Recording how users interact with a product and move through the product to achieve the desired Goals ranges from written statements to in-person observation.

The testing will be focused on specific Goals or across the entire product. Before starting the test, our team will work with you to create a clear plan to cover all aspects that need testing, and it will deliver the “Answers” to your “Goals”. This can range from looking at an onboarding process (Goal: Do our end users enjoy a seamless and faultless on-onboarding flow?) Or it could be the First Time User Experience (Question: Do our users understand how to use the product after using the product for the first time?) Or it might be to ad-hoc test across the entire product (Question: I need to know if the product works as an end-user expects it to.) Or provide feedback on ease of use (Question: I need to know if the end-users find the product friendly to use).

As our usability testing uses trained professional testers, we will also pick up functionality bugs and can test against test cases to ensure the product also works as you expect it to.

Why do it?

How do you know what experience your end users have when they pick up your product? Best practise means you will already have analytics built into the product. Analytics does a great job of visualizing aspects like, where users travel, do they drop-off at specific points, and what areas are “sticky” etc. The problem is that the data is anonymous and leaves you guessing why a user followed that path, quit the app at that point or why they spent all their time in one area.

Usability testing will reveal those answers…and many more.

Our usability test reports will allow you to understand why end-users took specific actions or behaved in a certain way on their journey to achieve a particular Goal. Armed with that information, you can tweak, amend or even pivot the design to relieve the specific pain point.

Our Usability testers have a strong pedigree of identifying facets of the user experience leveraging expertise from testing in the Interactive Entertainment industry. Identifying areas that hamper the quality of the end-user journey is a regular feature of our testing. GlobalStep aims to leverage this experience for Usability Testing for apps and software across multiple domains. Best practices gathered through numerous engagements are also leveraged to provide excellence in usability testing

Usability testers can also contribute to finding functionality bugs in their testing. In fact, these functionality bugs might also be an unseen factor that you haven’t spotted in the user flow. Bugs are reported daily by our team so you will always be able to react quickly.

Alongside the usability testing, we can also run specific functionality test cases. Thus, besides understanding how your end users want to operate the product, you can rest assured that it also works in a manner specified by you.

When to do it?

There are quite a few times through the development cycle where usability testing is invaluable. Testing should be scheduled multiple times through the development of a product to ensure you always have a great understanding of how end-users are interacting with your product.

  • Prototyping
    • Find early stage issues and stop them being baked in through early stages of product development.
  • Feature Development
    • As new features are developed pass them through to the usability and functionality test team to test and ensure that they work as required
    • Make sure that new features fit within any design constraints or premises.
    • Don’t leave testing until all the features are completed!
  • Soft launch or just before the main release
    • As your product gains more traction in the marketplace, it will attract more users.
    • Pay particular attention to FTUE and any purchasing points – these are going to get a lot more attention now!
  • Post-release
    • Gone are the days when we would release a product and let it live or die from the first release.
    • Regular updates to add features, fix bugs or improve the end-user experience will need validation – both from the functionality and usability perspective.

Hopefully, this should provide some guidance on how to get started on the journey to increase your confidence in your digital products. In the meantime, if you have any questions or wish to speak with a GlobalStep QA expert, please get in touch.

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