Products, in terms of software, apps and games, should always have usability testing performed. In fact, even physical products should have a usability test performed to ensure that the product is ready for the consumer.
If you choose to release a product without first conducting your own functional testing services or hiring a third-party to conduct the tests, you’re putting your product to market with too much risk.
Instead, it’s better to follow these best practices to conduct a usability test of a product:
1#) Choose the Type of Usability Test
Your first step is to choose the type of usability test that you’ll run. There are three main test types to consider:
- Moderated / unmoderated
- In-person / remote
- Explorative / assessment tests
These three types of tests ought to be run to be able to test usability in a responsible, effective manner. You have the option of running all of these tests, and if you want your final product to be consumer ready, running all three tests may be the best option.
Of course, there’s also a lot to consider.
2#) Outsource or Run Internal Tests
Before you run your tests, you’ll want to consider whether you want to run internal tests or outsource the tests. There are benefits to both types of testing, and it’s not uncommon to run both in-house and outsource tests for a more robust testing environment.
- In-house tests should be performed initially to find common bugs and issues that will need to be corrected. You may also implement continuous testing to ensure usability stays high between new releases and updates.
- Outsourcing testing allows for an intense usability test that will provide a well-rounded, third-party analysis of a product. The test is designed to be used on a case-by-case basis, so the testing is often more thorough when performed by a third-party. The third-party test allows for no bias testing and will often find issues that in-house tests miss.
Due to the costs involved with outsourcing tests, it may be beneficial to incorporate the outsourced tests later in the product development cycle. The goal is to test the product close to production and will allow you to catch the final issues that internal tests miss.
3#) Run Moderated Testing
Moderated tests are often the first usability tests that are performed because they include the end user and researchers. The close interaction allows the test to be robust and for:
- Follow up questions on what issues the user is experiencing
- Immediate questions and answers
- Better understanding of how the tests are run
You can also follow up with unmoderated testing in the future to see how users will use the product without direct interaction with someone from the company. If users find that the product is too confusing or cumbersome during an unmoderated test, it is a good indicator that changes must be made to make usability easier.
4#) Run Explorative Tests
Open-ended tests are considered explorative and allow users to:
- Give opinions
- Brainstorm ideas
- Generate new concepts
Explorative tests are often initial tests that are performed earlier in the product development cycle. These tests will be able to help developers better understand:
- Product strengths
- Product weaknesses
- Gaps in the product
You may want to follow this test up with an assessment test that will be able to determine how users use a product and judge the product’s overall functionality. Both of these tests will result in a better understanding of the product and what can be tweaked to enhance the product’s usability.
Competitive research may follow which will compare your product to the product of key competitors.
5#) Implement and Retest
The final step in the process is to implement changes and test again. A lot of product creators will implement a final implementation and not test the changes. It’s important to be able to test once all of the recommendations have been put in place to find any issues that occurred after the new recommendations were made.
You may find that the retest is less intensive and will check primarily the changes that have been made based on other tests.
Usability testing is one of the best ways to release a product that is well-received by consumers, and is straightforward and easy to use.