The aim of every software product development team is to build products that would make life easier for their end-customers. While these products are being developed, a lot of focus is placed on the user-friendliness of the UI (user interface) and more time is spent to ensure that the products are easy to operate.
You could build a fully functional system, yet it can be deemed “unusable” when it is delivered into the hands of the end-users if it is not user-friendly. The ease of use and the flexibility of using the controls in achieving the intended results are critical to the success of any software product. That is why usability testing plays an integral part of any product development process. Even with periodic updates, companies always try to enhance the user experience to ensure the end-user continues to enjoy using the product.
What is Usability Testing?
Usability Testing is a technique to evaluate or expose flaws in the user interaction of a product or an application. The purpose of usability testing is to build a system with a great user experience. Usability testing implementation helps to determine whether the system is efficient, effective, accurate and user-friendly. The goal of this kind of testing also is to ensure that the customer can easily use the product without prior training to achieve the intended outcomes.
Better user experience is a continuous journey that does not stop. In other words, there is always a room for improving the experience of the product with the passage of time.
Types of Usability Testing
There are mainly two kinds of usability testing methods:
- Lab-based Usability Testing: This testing is conducted in a lab environment with the help of observers, who will observe the functioning of the system and how the users respond to the system. The testers execute the test, on the other hand, an observer moderates how they respond to the system. This will allow the observer to judge whether the product checks out on user-friendliness or not. However, both the tester and observer need to be in the same place to conduct this test.
- Remote Usability Testing: The observer remotely observes interactions of a group of users with the system. The observations are made based on the screen activity and the expressions of the users during the process to know whether the system is easy to navigate and whether it allows users to achieve the probable output that is intended to achieve.
One of the other ways of improving the user experience of a software product is by collecting feedback from the end-users after the product is released into the market and implementing changes via new versions or updates. This helps in improving the overall experience based on the previously collected feedback.
Product Usability Point of Views
To understand the importance of Usability Testing, first, we need to understand what usability means. There are three different viewpoints to ascertain a product’s usability, which will allow us to get a better perspective on the importance of conducting usability testing.
- Usability according to the end user
- Usability according to the developer
- Usability according to the tester
- Usability according to the end user: When it comes to end-users, user interaction definitely plays a huge role in determining the usage of a product. However, many users may not be able to explain what factors will determine the effectiveness of their experience. Any product unless it reaches the hands of the end-user cannot determine its effectiveness. Therefore, when a product is developed, both the development and testing teams need to understand the psychology of the customer and pre-determine their needs to make the system easy to use and effective.
- Usability according to the developer: A developer’s point of view towards the user experience may be different from that of others. To complete a project with all its requirements and cover all functionalities is a developer’s responsibility. Since the developer has worked on every functional aspect of the product, it will be easy for them to navigate through the system. Therefore, once the system is built, it is easier for a developer to get the intended outcomes without being confused, as they know how it operates. So, to understand usability from the point of view of an end-user can be difficult for a developer. As long as the system is functional, it is usable according to developers’ perspective.
- Usability according to a Software/Hardware Tester: The team that conducts usability testing have the challenge of stepping into the shoes of the end-users and understanding their psychology towards the system. Testers have to predetermine what issues or problems the end-user might face while operating the system and evaluate what needs to be done to iron out those flaws and improve the UI of the system in such a way that the user is able the easily navigate, operate, and acquire the needed output from the system.
Consider an example of a website. If it is difficult to navigate, the users may end up leaving the website. Once the users leave the website, they might not return due to unsatisfactory and unappealing user-experience. This is why usability testing is important to analyze issues a user might face and at the same time identify possible solutions to improve the experience of the users.
Usability testing is an inevitable part of the testing process to ensure that the developed product not only makes life easier for the end-user, by helping them to easily operate the system without any hassles.
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