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How are usability tests and user experience tests conducted?

  • Business
  • 10 January 2023
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How are usability tests and user experience tests conducted?

User Experience research can provide digital products with a true compass. Both for those introduced to the market that do not utilise their potential and those for which functionality must be developed from scratch. In the interface design stages, they can indicate the proper direction of work thanks to their application.

For market debutants, UX testing is a crucial phase of the development process. However, owners of applications, websites, and online stores must adhere to market trends. Even popular applications and websites become obsolete or incompatible with the technological standards of new user devices over time.

In the late stages of application development, erroneous decisions are revealed. Therefore, it is essential to thoroughly prepare and conduct usability tests at each of the many stages.

Who are usability tests for?

Any owner of a digital product – an application, website, online store, or online service – who poses questions requiring qualitative data can benefit from usability testing.

Most frequently, they begin with “why”:

  • …my website is not very effective?
  • …the app has poor reviews?
  • …users do not pay attention to newly added functions?
  • …visitors leave the site without conversion, in the same places?
  • …your e-mail inbox is besieged with reports of technical problems?

And also those who want to enhance their digital project or are in the process of creating one and, as a result, have more specific questions. For instance:

  • How simple is the product for users to operate?
  • According to the UCD principles, does the website’s navigation and structure facilitate user flow?
  • Are messages delivered without obstacles and displayed in the most effective locations?
  • What information are users lacking?
  • What distracts, irritates, and deters light users, and what discourages heavy users?
  • Are users assisted effectively in resolving interaction issues?
  • What adjustments must be made to the website following rebranding?
  • Are user goals aligned with the product’s business objectives?

Usability tests will increase the effectiveness of market-ready products by making them more “user-friendly.”

On the other hand, newcomers will be able to save money on product modifications.

If usability tests are conducted early enough, many critical errors will be discovered at the prototype stage.

How should the usability test be conducted?

Due to the rapid development of technology, remote usability testing is now the norm. You can successfully conduct surveys, A/B tests, task usability tests, and interviews in the virtual space.

Participants can be recruited from among the product’s current users, but the use of research platforms that allow you to select profiles from a larger, better-structured database is a significant time-saver.

The second stage of recruitment consists of questionnaires containing screening questions, which further narrow the group.

To avoid overburdening participants and obtain the highest quality results, it is best to select only the essential elements for testing. As a general rule, the maximum test pace is 5 tasks per quarter hour, and the entire test should not exceed 60 minutes. Eventually, the respondent’s concentration deteriorates.

To enable participants to empathise with the roles of users, the product’s context must be presented. The story’s motivations and objectives that the product promises to achieve. If a survey of users’ personal experiences precedes the test, it will be possible to refer to them and make it easier for them to enter the situation.

Currently, two parallel approaches to remote UX research are being developed.

The first includes usability testing with moderators. They may utilise simple video conferencing software such as Google Meet, Skype, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom. Professional agencies conduct research using comprehensive platforms: Whereby, Lookback, and Miro. The UX Researcher guides agency participants through the online process. It regulates the precision of task execution and monitors interactions. Collects qualitative data for analysis later on.

Such tests can be conducted concurrently, i.e. by bringing together users located in different locations. Controlling the research’s quality is as simple as observing the discipline, reliability, and scenario itself. By the way, you can assist individuals who, if left to themselves, might become lost and struggle.

The second method of usability testing is unmoderated testing. Users conduct operations without the assistance of a researcher.

Tests without moderation are preceded by the definition of the research problem, the analysis of hypotheses and assumptions, and the formulation of the research question. Participants need a replacement for the moderator, so they are given brief introductions to each task comprising the study scenario prior to performing it. Because users are not chatting in real time, polls may appear following each task. These tests’ video recordings provide multidimensional data for analysis.

This type of usability testing is considered to be the most affordable due to the significant simplification of the process and the independent operation of each participant, as well as the researchers. In addition, it allows you to scale the tests over time, as each user can be tracked while using the digital product repeatedly over a longer period of time. This allows us to obtain not only the characteristics of the interaction during the initial stages, but also the habits that develop naturally after the onboarding period.

There is a significant factor shared by both approaches. Due to the remote nature of the tests, the obtained data is as representative as possible of the user’s lifestyle. Participants engage in these activities in their natural setting. Frequently at a time that coincides with the actual use of a website or application.

Usability Tests: Advantages

Remote usability testing is significantly less expensive than traditional offline testing. We eliminate the expense of renting rooms, the need to reimburse travel expenses, and the need to gather all participants in one location. The research staff has also been reduced.

At the same time, we have easy access to precisely selected user groups, regardless of location or time constraints. Each can independently work on their results in their own environment and with their own equipment, without incurring additional expenses, complications, or sacrifices. Typically, it is sufficient to fit within the specified time window of 24 or 48 hours. Even a very large number of people can be tested efficiently and affordably in this manner.

Usability testing yields results from which it is possible to infer what users are doing on the interface, how, why, how they feel, and what problems they are encountering.

Do they know what they’re doing and have command of all the functions? By tracking a user’s sequence of interactions, it is possible to identify flaws in a digital product, such as inadequate user support on the path to the user’s goal or a lack of visual appeal that discourages interaction. This allows for the proposal of enhancements that will seal the user flow.

For remote testing, software with quantitative data collection capabilities is frequently employed. This will allow us to determine not only under what conditions the user made decisions A, B, and C, but also:

  • how much time did they spend with the product
  • what percentage of tasks did they manage and how long did it take them
  • what interactions they undertook with the use of a mouse, keyboard or touch screen
  • what technology was used at that time – operating system, browser, screen resolution, etc.

Summary

Usability testing is currently a highly adaptable resource of techniques and methods. From complete moderation to complete user autonomy. This adaptability makes them accessible not only to large corporations, but also to small start-ups, for which the launch of the initial product may determine the need for additional funding.

Regardless of the industry or business stage, it is important to remember the importance of UX tests.

Occasionally, they allow you to immediately adapt the product to the target market (reduce the cost of future optimization). On occasion, they will increase the website’s effectiveness, which diminishes over time.

Constantly, one of the greatest bargaining chips of UX researchers is their ability to discover minor interface bugs, the correction of which will result in a substantial increase in profits or savings at a low cost.

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