“Usability is about people and how they understand and use things, not about technology.” — Steve Krug
In the new era of digital transformation, the new buzz word is customer experience. According to Forbes 77% of consumers consider customer experience as important as the quality of products and services. So, ensuring the customer experience by better usability is as important as the underlying technology and it should be a practice during product creation rather than an audit process in the end.
What is usability testing?
In simple terms, Usability testing is the process of measuring ease of usage of the application by collecting the experience from real time users. It should be completely independent of developers or UI designers. It is a non-functional testing which needs involvement of real user or a subset of real users. Various aspects of user experience need to be validated to perform an effective usability testing. They are
- ease of usage and insightfulness of the application to all type of users
- user’s emotions or attitude
- time elapsed to get hold of the application flow
- user’s attention span and focal areas within the application
Challenges in validating usability of an application
- Need feedback from real user base
- Produce collective feedback and actionable insights
- Diversity of digital platforms
- Need devices and environment
How to perform usability testing?
Unlike the other type of testing the main difficulty in performing usability testing is the need for actual users as testers. Crowd testing is the best approach for usability testing. The activities for an effective usability testing can be divided into 5 stages.
Usability testing are costly as it need lot of resources. So, organizations have to plan it properly so that an effective balance between cost and benefit is maintained. The planning phase should list out the below factors as output.
- Critical user intensive modules to test
- Duration for testing
- Number of resources needed for testing with various experience level and ability
- A questionnaire for users for heuristic evaluation
- Crowd testing platform which can be used for managing the testers and activities
- Device and environments to validate the experience on various digital channels
- A team to coordinate the testing activities and consolidate reports
2. On boarding of resource
Once the planning phase is over, the resources need to be identified and onboarded. The factors which need to be considered while selecting resources are
- The testing work force should be a balanced mix of experienced and novice people
- The people should be from different demographic region in which the application is supposed to be available
- It is better to include differently abled personas to ensure the global accessibility
- The various type of devices and network bandwidth
3. Usability Testing
The actual testing will be conducted in this phase. A moderator should coordinate with the testers to make the activity effective as a time bounded activity. The heuristic questionnaire should be circulated to the users to share their feedback after testing.
4. Data collection & Analysis
Data can be collected from various touch points during the testing phase. The real time customer perception data can be collected through automated way and system performance related data can be collected from log monitors. The heuristic questionnaire collected from users also should be analyzed with due diligence. Cognitive analysis can be used to come up with more insightful recommendations.
5. Reporting & corrective measures
In this stage the detailed analysis report with insight and recommendation will be handed over to UX designers for further action.
Scope of AI and automation in Usability testing
- Crowd testing platform can be used to extend the coverage of usability testing.
- Intelligent bots for automatic data collection from users at real time
- Cloud platforms to perform the tests with various type of devices and configurations to simulate actual user environment.
- Cognitive analysis of data to produce actionable insights and reports
According to the Invesp, 80% of domain experts use Usability testing for problem detection and better user experience. As per studies for every $1 invested in UX, you can get results in between $2-$100.
Various tools and service providers are available to check various aspects of usability validation. Infosys Accessibility Testing Tool(iATT) helps in evaluating the accessibility of UI for personas with disabilities.
CrazyEgg, UserZoom, Loop11 are some other tools in this area. To perform a complete usability testing organizations should select proper set of tools considering the required level of testing and cost-benefit factors.
With the new technology buzz word, Metaverse, digital experience is moving into multi dimension. It is going to make its impact on all the domains such as ecommerce, gaming, retail, event management and what not. Validating the usability of digital contents in this Metaverse world will be the next challenge for IT experts. A strong foundation of usability validation team with crowd testing platforms and cognitive analysis will going to help us in this journey.
Some good reads and references:-
1. Usability Problems – 7 Methods to Uncover Usability Issues on Your Website (invespcro.com)