What is Usability Testing?
Usability testing is a study performed to determine whether an interface, web page or device is usable. Usability testing requires developing a test plan, recruiting participants, and analyzing the results.
Usability testing shows if the participants can complete their tasks, how much time it takes to complete specific tasks, and how convenient and clear your product is for the participants. By identifying the weaknesses of the object under test, you can understand what improvements need to be implemented to improve performance.
Usability testing objectives
Researchers choose one method to analyze user experience depending on the testing goals. Below is Jen Romano Bergstrom's classification.
- Concurrent thinking aloud (CTA) is used to understand participants' thoughts as they interact with the product, making them think aloud while they work. The goal is to encourage participants to maintain a continuous stream of consciousness during work.
- In retrospective thinking aloud (RTA), the moderator asks participants to repeat their steps after the session ends. Often participants watch a video replay of their actions, which may or may not contain gaze patterns.
- Concurrent probing (CP) requires participants to share their thoughts as they work on problems. Researchers receive feedback and emotional reactions in real-time.
- Retrospective probing (RP) requires waiting until the session is over and asking questions about the participant's thoughts and actions. Researchers often use RP in combination with other techniques. When the participant makes comments or actions, the researcher takes notes and asks follow-up questions at the end of the session.
Regardless of which technique was chosen for testing, it is helpful to gain some level of understanding of the participants' thoughts. It is best to ask them to think aloud during testing and ask additional questions afterwards.
In SDH practice, we use different usability testing techniques for different projects. Most often, it is concurrent thinking aloud and concurrent probing. A kind of brainstorming, when we as a team test the product's usability, identify weaknesses and analyze what we could improve. When usability testing, we select people who could be the target audience for the product being tested.
When conducting a test, we always take into account the following indicators:
- Time to reach the target;
- Number of errors;
- Participants' subjective impression of the product;
- The subjective impression of the product;
- Assessment of comfort.
We also perform usability testing not only of the final product but also of competitors to find out how our product can differ from similar products on the market.