Wondering what user testing is all about or how does it work? Let us take a quick look at what user testing entails and the reasons why it is a valuable tool. We will also take a look at the different types of user testing we have, and the situation in each method works best.
User testing also called usability testing, a method used in a user-centered design for the evaluation of a product by allowing real users make use of the product. From this testing, direct input and information are gotten on how real users use the product, and this is an irreplaceable usability practice. User testing is different from usability inspection methods where experts use various techniques to evaluate a product without involving the real users.
In marketing, many people mistake user testing for focus group and other market research methods. Software developers also sometimes mistake it for quality assurance testing and the wrong assumption cuts across the board. Some consider user testing as a waste of money because they fill the product could have been made perfect in the first place, and there will be no need for any form of trying it out with any user. User testing works and thrives on the feedback gotten from real users of the product to details that experts might not be able to take cognizance of at the stage of design and manufacturing.
The automotive industry is an excellent example of an industry that values user testing. Automakers will never put a car in a showroom without the subject that particular car model to different test such as driving the car over long miles, crash testing it all in the bid to fine-tune its performance based on the data gathered from the various test and feedback from users. This explains why user testing is of great importance to the commercial web and mobile software designs to be able to achieve producing a perfect product. An optimal user experience cannot be achieved without the input of real users no matter how brilliant software designers and developers are on the project or product.
User testing on a website involves making some people perform a specific task on a product just designed such a website or intranet. It could be a mock-up website if it is still in the process of getting one completed. This user testing is carried out by one individual per time and not in a group as we have with focus group where feedback comes from a group of people all at once.
The user who will test the product must come from a target group and should be a potential user or buyer of your product, website or services. The actions of this user are recorded for later analysis of the data. The best output will be gotten if the user can be vocal with his/her thought as they go to the website
Everyone is limited in knowledge in one form of the other, and this limitation plays out in different ways. Experts are not exempted even in their field of expertise as they can also be limited in their judgment.
A video recorded that vividly shows the discomfort shown by customers having difficulty with your product has a strong power to drive home the point even with an egocentric know-it-all experts in the design team or top management. This video can keep the team on track as it can always be played to remind them of how a user will react to such a design.
User test reveals things that are hidden and one such is the opinion of a client about the judgment or advice of an expert. Client’s opinion counts if they are going to use a particular product and user testing brings to bear what they consider essential. This is the fact, and it wins over expert opinions as user testing reveals the truth. The fact that 3 out of 4 clients had trouble navigating a filter on your online shop is enough proof that tells you something must be done urgently on this problem
This old-school method of user testing remains relevant to this point in time. It involves the moderator sitting next to person doing the test, and the moderation starts to ask a question and takes note of the reactions and expression if the user. This method allows additional questions to be asked giving a deep insight into what a client considers about the product. The reactions and information this technique helps to generate cannot be replicated by other user testing method making it always relevant despite how out of fashion the method might look. The ability of the moderator to effectively moderating the test goes a long way in determining the success of the test. The look, sitting posture, and other salient issues can significantly influence the outcome of the test.
As an improvement on the moderated user testing method, remote moderated user testing allows testing to be done remotely without the physical presence of the moderator and this saves time and money. There is flexibility to when and where the test can be done. The test participant and the moderator with the help of a screen sharing software can have their session at different locations. The session can be aided by the use of a webcam to enable the moderator to see the face of the test user. This method is suitable for when user and moderator have located far away from each other such as being in different countries. It saves time and money.
In this form of testing, moderation is not required, and users simply surf a website and read the task to be carried out on the screen. This Unmoderated session can take place in two different forms
Recorded image and sound – this method ask test user to out loud, but this method rarely gets sincere opinion from users as most time, the sound less professional.
Recorded mouse movements and time – this method involves the user test participant performing specific task and filling out a questionnaire as a form of feedback after the session. This used when interacting with a large group of users.
The advantages of user testing include:
Usability testing might not be able to create a total picture of what the usage of product will turn out to be in future, but it remains the best method to get rid of problems that can mar a product after launch. Correcting this increases the chance of the product succeeding faster by meeting user’s expectation and need.
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