How to Build Consistency into your Usability Study - Docket

How to Build Consistency into your Usability Study

A usability study is the process of taking a new product or feature to a representative group of users to test its design and functionality. Usability testing, or user testing, helps your product design team learn what works and what doesn’t. Products should be easy to use and avoid causing confusion or frustration. After all, you want your customers to use the product and enjoy it.

Several methods of usability testing exist. Before choosing one for your usability study, you should have a clear idea of your resources, target audience, and research objectives. In most types of usability testing, a moderator sits with an end-user participant who tries out the product or service. Ideally, the user intuitively guides themselves through the design easily and effortlessly. Here are a few common types of moderated usability testing:

  • Guerrilla testing. You go to a place where you will find your target audience members, ask them to perform a quick usability test, and then ask a few pre usability test questions. This method is good early in the product development phase for products, such as a new coffee flavor, that don’t require specialized users.
  • Exploratory usability testing. This type of testing also is done early in the process and requires considerable interaction between moderator and user to help surface user expectations.
  • Lab usability testing. Members of the target group test the product in a unique environment, supervised by a moderator.
  • Remote moderated usability testing. Members of the target group test the product outside of a special environment and are supervised by a moderator.
  • Remote usability testing. Target group members test the product outside of a special environment and answer a usability testing questionnaire.
  • Usability testing online. Target group members test the product, a website or software, online with a moderator.

To run an effective usability test, you need usability testing tools or, in some cases, remote usability testing tools. You also need to develop a solid test plan, develop specific prototype testing questions, analyze the data, and prepare a usability testing report.

Usability Testing Questions

To obtain the best results, the moderator should remain unbiased. The usability testing process should take place in a quiet environment with limited distractions.

Here is a description of usability testing and how to develop a usability test questions template.

The moderator should first define what will be tested; for example, will the user test just a particular feature? Or the whole product or application? Then the moderator defines a clear script that includes the purpose of the study, background on the product being tested, and questions appropriate for the study. Finally, the moderator clearly lays out a set of tasks the user will be asked to complete. Writing this script in the form of a usability study agenda helps maintain consistency across the entire sample.

Questions should seek to:

  • Identify areas of friction with your design or user experience
  • Discover bugs in development
  • Stimulate ideas for future improvement or added functionality

If you want qualitative data and quantitative, the moderator should ask users for their thoughts and feelings about the product and how they believe a product should perform.

Developing a usability testing template will ensure consistency across tests. Developing a usability testing checklist will ensure that you or a moderator won’t forget an important task or question.

Usability Testing Reports

Good, specific usability testing documentation is critical. Notes of answers and outcomes should be organized, documented, and analyzed by the design and development team and shared with other stakeholders. Developing a usability testing report template to be used among all moderators and recorders will help ensure consistency.

Usability Testing Examples

How To Conduct Usability Testing for a Website

Here is a usability testing example for a website. First, we consider the best way to do the testing. Do we want to conduct it in our lab, which would be more expensive but allow for in-person observation and interaction? Or do we want to conduct it remotely, which will allow us to study more people? We then develop a plan and task list for the test. Usability study task examples include:

  • Developing a script that will be used in the study, including questions
  • Recruiting representative users
  • Appointing a moderator
  • Conducting the test
  • Completing the documentation

Examples of usability test questions might include:

  • How confident did you feel when navigating the website?
  • What about this website was user friendly? What was not?

How to Do Usability Testing for Mobile Application

Just as with usability testing for any product, we develop a plan and task list. We determine who to recruit; for example, do we want new users, or do we want those who have been using a previous version of the app? We determine whether we want to test remotely or in a lab. We develop our script, hire a moderator, recruit users, conduct the test, and complete the documentation at the end of the test.

About the Author

Heather Hansson

Heather is VP of Product and Chief of Staff at Docket. She enjoys leading cross-functional teams to work together on vision, strategy, and implementing solutions that help people work and live better. When she isn’t helping rid the world of wasteful meetings with Docket, Heather likes to run, take violin lessons with her son, and spend time with her family.

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