How to conduct usability testing?

Usability testing can be very expensive in major product designs if the scope of the product is large using global product user's representatives.The tools that usually go hand in had with such usability testing are very expensive and not easily available.Some of the tools & facilities that come handy are
  1. Morae customer experience software
  2. Camtasia Studio
  3. UserVue Remote User Research
  4. Accessories(Camera etc)
  5. Usability Labs etc

Does this means that we can not go for usability testing if the project allocation fund is small? No not at all, there are many economical usability testing methods can be used to design better product & services like paper prototype usability testing, walk through testing etc.Let us explore the typical steps to follow when we are going to perform usability testing.




















Step 1: Software/Application/Product information collection

Knowledge of product to be tested is vital for facilitator & note takers involved in usability testing.If you are new to the project then this information can be collected from the product manager,UX architect,designers or other team members involved in the design of the product.If you are working from the initiation phase of the project then it is an ideal scenario.The user persona's,technical infrastructure,industry area to which the product pertains,number of users globally,geographical locations of users etc are some of the information you should look upon.

Step 2: Critical Task/Scenarios selection

Sit with the product design team and product manager to come to conclusion most critical tasks that will be performed with the application by the users.Suppose it is a flight travel ticket booking site then the most critical tasks that come into mind will be

  • Buying a ticket online
  • Search flights
  • Online Customer service

Step 3:Test scripts & scenarios

A test script includes the task the users needs to perform & gave their valuable responses.Preparation of test scripts will have the below sections.

  • Pre-test questions: "Questions should be very simple" this is the ground rule.We can ask the users to fill a small information sheer which asks for name,age,gender,location,education,interest & hobbies etc. Uncomfortable questions like what is your annual income should not be asked unless it is mandatory affecting their tasks in case of BFSI(Banking and Financial Services) products.
  • Test scenarios: A typical test scenario will be like this.

"This year Diwali holidays are falling in October end.Your manager has granted you ten days of leave.Please book a flight ticket for yourself on the travel portal"

  • Post test questions: The post test questions will be focused on getting the responses from usability testing participants in an intuitive manner.i.e. How do you feel about the number of steps involved. What do you like most about travel portal. Any suggestions you would like to give to improve the application.


















Step 4: Conducting usability testing:

Before inviting the actual participants for the usability tests,make a dummy test with one of your team members(with the least knowledge about the product) to insure all the software,cameras,questions framed are working fine & suits well.

  • Invite the participants & welcome them for the test
  • Introduce them to usability testing team
  • Make the users comfortable saying that "We are not testing user skills here rather we are testing the application".This will make the user more comfortable.
  • Distribute the test scripts,Help them in filling the small form, answer their queries in most caring manner.
  • TAKE CARE OF THE USERS - this line should never be compromised.
  • Usability testing - Invite the users to their respective systems & ask them to work on the test scenarios. Make a not of the time while they are performing the test.If they ask any question's answer them with some clues but do not help them in making the task success.Use words like "I am very delighted to see what you have done till now, it will help us to make the application user friendly.Let me take you to the next task".
  • Post-test questions - Collect the users feedback from Post test questions.
  • Note takes will be taking notes throughout the sessions, they will focus on getting the important information that will improve the application.They will have all the quantitative details about each user like how much time they took to complete the test,what were the important path they followed etc, they are also responsible for the videos data capturing & screen hot area files etc.

Step 5: Collecting the responses & Thank giving to the users

Collect the test scenarios form users.Give them the gifts if you have promised it before & thank them for giving their valuable inputs.In this way we can go for usability testing.Usability testing is a Art,science & craft together s0 it will take some time to master the skills.

Not a problem there is first time for everything. :-)

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