Usability testing is an invaluable step in understanding how users interact with a digital product or website. It allows us to discover issues and understand user behaviors.
Usability testing can be incorporated at various stages of a design and development cycle − helping to validate and challenge either conceptual ideas or work in progress. Measuring how users react and engage with a product in real-time helps us plan and iterate the ideal solution.
Usability testing can be moderated or unmoderated, depending on the project and what is being tested.
Moderated usability testing is a task based session between a facilitator and participant. The facilitator will provide a task or prompt to the participant and they will carry that task out. While this is happening, the facilitator will be closely observing and be ready to ask follow up questions to understand further.
Tasks are carefully considered prior to the session and are used to target specific areas that we want to test. An example of a task would be something like:
You would like to report dumped rubbish you have spotted on the side of the road.
Where would you go to make a report of this issue?
While the participant is completing the task, they are asked to ‘think-aloud’, in order to express what they are thinking and feeling as they interact with the website or design.
Sessions are recorded and notes are taken by a separate moderator for reference and analysis.
Usability tests can also be unmoderated, using an online tool. These sessions rely on a clickable prototype with the same task based format. Results are often more quantitative, showing metrics like time, heatmaps and first clicks.
The main benefit of usability testing is gathering rich qualitative data about a product or design. By recruiting real users, a genuine understanding of user behavior and issues with the design can be had. Usability testing can also be used to test existing products or websites and new designs.
Digital Garden provides a report showing the insights gained from Usability testing. The report also contains suggestions that address issues found. Real evidence is shown in the form of quotes and snippets form participants, allowing stakeholders to directly understand what users are saying. Digital Garden presents the report and gives the opportunity to answer questions.