In the 21st century, a common theme that has emerged is to do what is best for the user.
We’ve all read it and heard it before. Do user research, know what your users want, and build a product that serves them.
But what isn’t talked about as much is “usability”. Without usability, all the talk on user research and building better products is moot.
This article will cover what usability is and how it can impact your business.
What Is Usability?
Usability is how easy a product is to use.
The key here is “easy”. Usability isn’t about how many hoops the user jumps through, it’s about the following questions:
How easily can a user accomplish their task? What questions do they ask themselves when trying to get something done? Is your product able to meet their needs and expectations? How efficient does your product accomplish the user’s goals?
Bearing in mind these questions is exactly what usability is about.
If a product is hard to use, it has low usability. If it’s easy to use, it has high usability.
What Is Usability Testing?
Usability testing is a technique used to determine how well a product meets the needs and expectations of its users. It measures how easily users can complete their tasks.
In other words, it tells you whether or not your software is easy to use.
Usability testing is important because what works well for the developers of a product, may not work as well for the end user. Whether your goal is to make software, hardware or websites–usability testing helps you create products that are easy to use.
It’s common to mistake usability testing for user research.
The difference between usability testing and user research is that usability testing has to do with measuring how users use a product, while user research focuses on understanding the needs, wants, and desires of your users.
How to Do a Usability Test in a User Study
To conduct a usability test, you have to monitor how users interact with your products and give them tasks that are representative of what they’ll be doing when using the final version. You can then watch the users and analyze their behavior. Things like how far they scroll down the page or where they click are useful indicators of how usable your site is.
At its most basic level, usability testing can be done with a focus group that has been assembled to test a new product. You ask them what they think about it and record their reactions.
Other ways of conducting a usability test are “in the wild” testing, where you watch people perform tasks in their own environment with their own tools and “think aloud” testing, where you ask users to think out loud while they use your product.
If usability testing appears to take too much time from developing or selling product, consider what happens to companies that don’t do usability testing.
Companies that don’t do usability testing get products that customers don’t want. The company wastes valuable time, energy, and money in developing the product. They spend millions of dollars on marketing and advertising to sell something that no one wants to buy.
These companies have a harder time making a profit or selling their products worldwide
And that’s because they don’t do usability testing.
Equally important to conducting a usability test is knowing how to evaluate usability.
Usability evaluation should measure what’s considered as more or less usable for your end user. If you are developing a messaging app, for example, your message app should have an easy-to-use interface because the end user uses messaging apps on a daily basis.
Another example is designing a website for a car service agency. The most important factor to consider in usability evaluation is confirming that the website can be easily navigated and understood.
You do not want users having any trouble on your site, app, or any product that you are developing.
Knowing how to evaluate the usability of your product matters.
Why Should Every Company Perform Usability Testing?
There are several reasons why all companies should engage in usability testing.
The first reason why is to enhance user experience. Usability testing can enhance user experience by identifying problem areas that can be improved upon. Insights from usability testing can directly influence how you make the roadmap of your product.
A second reason why every company should practice usability testing is to determine the optimal design of products, websites, and apps.
By observing how a user interacts with your product or website will help you improve it so that users can easily do what they want on it.
Another reason why every company should do usability testing is that the company will discover various things about its product that it did not originally know about. These insights can be related to anything in the product and its life cycle.
Perhaps the end user is using a feature for a very different use case than you intended. If multiple users were doing that, your company may have had an accidental discovery about the end user.
Who Should Perform Usability Testing?
Usability testing can be done by most departments in any organization.
Usability testing is useful for product teams because it can provide insight and feedback on their designs before the products are released.
It is also a good idea for companies to perform usability testing internally because it can identify opportunities where they might be able to improve their process flow or efficiency.
Usability tests are a great way to gain knowledge about your customers and clients, which helps marketing teams make higher targeted copy for ads and SEO blogging.
Finally, usability testing is useful for sales teams because they will have more insight about what customers and clients need, which ultimately results in a better sales pitch.
When it comes to UX testing, everyone benefits from the exercise whether you’re a product team, marketing team, customer service department, or sales staff.
Usability testing is what leads companies to greater success. After all, it’s companies who work for the user that end up leading their industries.
Industry-leading products tend to have high usability.
Noah Levy – Chisel Labs