As a new generation grows older, one that has been raised with computers and the internet as a given, UX design and the usability of products has become vital to the success of software. Apps with user interfaces that don’t work the way you expect or have unresolved issues are quickly tossed aside, while those with sound UX and UI incorporated into their design gain a competitive advantage. One of the best ways to ensure these designs are in place is through something called usability testing.

In this article, we are going to take a look at usability testing, what it is, why we use it, and how to run successful tests that lead to better user experiences in the long run. Although this may seem like a small part of your mobile strategy, it can make a huge difference to your customers. Not only that, but it is completely within your control to improve. That being said, let’s start with the basics: what is usability testing?

usability testing

What is usability testing?

In short, usability testing is a method used to evaluate how easy a website, app, or software is to navigate. We utilize usability testing to measure how usable and intuitive the user interface of various platforms is and we then review these measurements to find areas to improve.

The main difference between usability testing and traditional methods is that the actual users or customers of the company are the ones doing the testing. This means that the feedback received is often better suited for actual end-users than when developers conduct the testing themselves.

Comparative vs. Explorative

When it comes to usability testing, there are two different options available: comparative and explorative. For comparative testing, testers are either comparing their product against a competitors or simply putting two designs against each other to find which has better usability. Similar to A/B testing, comparative usability testing helps us to pick the best option for those particular end-users.

The other option when usability testing is to go for an explorative approach. This involves presenting users with a new product in order to see how they interact with the interface and evaluate how well the UX designers did in creating a usable product. Often these users are given realistic goals to complete that offer valuable insight for the developers on how their users think and behave.

Why do we test usability?

Now, so far we have mainly talked about what usability testing is, but now let’s talk about why we use this method for creating products. First of all, direct feedback from the target audience of a project is the ideal people you want testing your product. They can help you solve issues or potential problems before your product ever reaches the market.

However, it’s not just the product that benefits from usability testing, but your overall business. Products with better testing increase the likelihood of repeat usage, it can minimize the risk involve in launching your product, and users are better able to reach the goals set by the product, which typically leads to higher conversion rates.

Running successful usability testing

We have looked at the what and why, so it makes sense that what comes next is the ‘how’ of usability testing. Since you are often testing a product that isn’t fully completed to end-users, more planning goes into putting together a test than with traditional methods. What follows next are three steps that will help you run successful usability testing on your next website, product, or app.

1. Prepare materials for adequate testing

As we mentioned, often when you are putting together a product that is still in development, it can be difficult to prepare materials adequate enough to run a proper test. This is where wireframes and prototypes will become your best friend. Even if you don’t have a working app, you can still test your UI and UX as long as you have a layout that your testers can interact with.

Thankfully, there are lots of different tools and tricks for simulating an app that is still in development in order to test its usability. Additionally, since the UI flow is typically something you want to build from the ground up, you can run multiple usability tests throughout the development process.

2. Find the right test participants

Along with finding the right materials, you also need to find the right people for the job. Ideally, these will be users that have already indicated that they would want to use your end product or are similar to your end-users. That way, you are able to get results closest to how the actual product will work with your users.

Keep in mind that usability testing is more about quality than quantity. While you can run surveys and other tests with a fully formed product, these tests are geared to help solve problems before they begin and received detailing information on how to improve your product. You should also remember that no matter how good your usability testing is, it will never be 100% accurate compared to real world situations, and that is ok.

3. Remain silent

The final part of running these usability tests is to remain silent and let the procedure run its course. Far too regularly UX designers will want to help their users to move along in the process, but the whole idea of testing in this way is to find where the weaknesses are that the design is failing. Remain silent, measure their data, and let things happen. This is the best way to get results that will actually be poignant and impactful.

UX design as a competitive advantage

As you begin to work out how best to approach usability testing and UX design for your own projects, you will begin to see how usable mobile app design can become a competitive advantage for your business. By starting these putting this process in place now, you will be able to get ahead of the curve and create beautiful, usable design for your users.

Then, when they become frustrated with designers who don’t put in the time to usability testing, where do you think they will go? That’s right, to you! UX design is now a competitive advantage, and it’s up to you to take advantage of it.