User Experience

Why Focus on Usability?: The Importance of Usability Testing

While there are many important aspects when it comes to overseeing an online business via a website, usability is one of the most important to look into.

Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Baker

I have been an avid user of the internet for a long time. Let’s face it, I was in middle school when Facebook and Youtube went live and it created a world that many of us haven’t seen. As I grew, so did many of these companies and here we are in 2023, where many of these organizations have completely revamped and updated their websites and apps. There were always mishaps along the way and many users often complained about certain aspects of the website or app. When there was a new update, users eagerly waited for their input to be put into practice, leaving them wanting more in the end. There are times when a website or app isn’t user-friendly and I immediately leave the application. This isn’t only limited to my experience, but many other users often are faced with the same dilemma, and instead of trying to figure it out, they move on.

As the years have gone on and technology has really taken its place within our society, when it comes to creating a successful business online, there are many tips and tricks that you can try and implement. But there’s a small and most likely forgotten tip that can really make your business a game changer. Who is the person that is really making your business successful? That’s right, your user! The importance of usability testing is often overlooked but it is one of the most important aspects to look into. This article will explore the reasons why it’s so important and ways you can put it into practice. 

What is usability testing? 

Before we begin to dive deep into usability testing, we must define it first. Usability testing is basically testing to see how easy it is to use your interface. There are different methods you can use to test the usability of your interface and basically put yourself in the shoes of your users. There are two main types that we will be exploring in this article:

  1. User testing
  2. Expert testing 

User testing involves and uses real users to see how they might interact with a product or interface. This type of testing can be done in person or online. Expert testing involves experts in the field testing out products and interfaces. This is often used before the product is available to the public. It’s such a valuable tool for your business, choosing what type of testing is right for you depends on the type of business and/or product you’re trying to get out there. 

Why is it so important? 

We have explored two types of testing when it comes to products or interfaces, but why exactly is it so important? When it comes to building the right product, usability testing plays an important role in constructing the perfect product or interface to publicize. For example, if you begin testing as early as possible, you can avoid huge problems in the future and fix them before they snowball into something that can take a long time to work through. When user testing is used on a product that has already been made publicly available, it can provide essential data and information to keep your business relevant among your users. 

Let’s break down the importance of user testing:

  1. Understanding how your site works for you and your users
  2. Your product meets the standards and expectations of your users
  3. Removes flaws and fixes bugs
  4. Enjoyable experiences for users 
  5. Useful for feedback 

What type of data will user testability offer? 

There are two types of information and data that will be available when you decide to embark on usability testing— quantitative and qualitative data. The reason user testability is qualitative is that it doesn’t take a massive amount of users to get your data. In fact, only about 7 to 11 users are really needed to conduct user testability. It’s not necessarily driven by a mass amount of data like surveys, this will eventually save you a lot of time in the long run. 

The reason that this type of research is quantitative is that it shows times spent on tasks, user efforts, success and failure rates, and other important aspects. 

User testability creates a more user-friendly interface, therefore creating more traffic toward your website or product. Photo courtesy of Brooke Cagle.

How can I get started with user testing? 

There are actually a good number of platforms that can make this task easier for you and your team. Platforms like Poll The People is a popular platform to use when specifically user testing. It can even be as easy as using the poll option on apps like Instagram, this can definitely work for a smaller business or local business. 

How exactly do you get started? It’s simple but important to remember these few tips and tricks. The first step is easy, what exactly do you want to get out of your user testing experience? Once you have a goal in mind, it’s time to get started. Identifying the type of audience you want to reach is imperative and it’ll make user testing a lot easier. Finding these groups of people can be a little tricky but programs like Poll The People have built-in user panels that’ll help you connect with the right people. 

The next step is to conduct your research. Once you have selected your target audience it’s time to think of questions that you can ask many of your users regarding your business, interface, and user experience. This will narrow down many options that you have as a business to really target the audience you’re looking for. Lastly, analyzing and understanding the results is one of the most important steps because this will set up your work and goals. Once you have received the data you need, you can get to work with your team to really hone in on the results that came from the testing. 

Best practices when user testing

Before we wrap up the basics of user testing, there are a few things that are important to keep in mind throughout the entire process. This can save you time and money, which is a plus in any business. 

  • Start testing user experiences early in the process to avoid big mistakes later on
  • Have a solid plan and understanding of the process 
  • Define specific tasks that need to be done after the testing process is over
  • Select the right candidates for your business
  • All testing data should be recorded and kept in order to fully analyze
  • Share all data with people on your team 
  • Remember that it’s all about the user’s experience

There should be a clear understanding of how user experience and its results can really define your business as a user-friendly one. Remember that many users around the world really care about products as long as it’s easy to understand and use for them. What are your best practices when it comes to user testing? Let us know!

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