31 Mar The Value of Usability Testing
While usability testing requires some extra calendar time and budget, we have found the results to be well worth the investment. For example, when an app is very new and different from what is currently available in the market, or when there is a niche user base, usability testing can help a product team truly understand their users and the journey they want through the product. Scenarios like this often come up during a typical engagement, and we are always enthusiastic to discuss the benefits of user testing.
Understanding users is crucial to user experience
As a user experience design consultancy, we spend a lot of time putting our feet in the shoes of our end users. During our initial discovery phase and during each iterative design sprint, we ask a lot of questions of the project team, with each person providing a different perspective, including that of the end user. In this way, we learn more about our users—what they are trying to accomplish, what motivates them, what struggles they have—and then apply that learning to our designs.
We try to empathize with the user and design an experience that helps them better navigate through and leverage the accessible data to make better decisions and understand their situation so they can DO something about it. Read more about how we study our users in this blog post.
Asking actual users to interact with our designs is immensely helpful in validating (or rethinking) the user questions and incorporating the proper perspectives into the final design.
Everyone on the team learns from usability testing
While UI/UX experts have significant experience in design, we still find it extremely beneficial to conduct usability testing. Sometimes this testing is done on a clickable prototype, especially when we need to understand how well a concept will be understood.
Using a prototype allows us to get vital user feedback before getting into development cycles of what may be a suboptimal design. This impartial testing really helps shape the design and improves the end product.
Even better is when we can have users provide feedback on a live app that we’ve designed. Learning from user feedback is how we refine and improve our approach to experience design. We can take that information and push our thinking in a different direction. In this way, the whole project benefits: the development team doesn’t waste time building something that may not be quite right and the final product is much more tailored to its purpose and end user.
You Won’t Regret It
If you have a hypothesis about a user flow or want to focus on an audience you may not fully understand, it would be a worthwhile exercise to conduct a well planned usability test. Even if you find you are headed in the right direction, you are sure to gain valuable insights into your product’s offerings and the perspective of your users.