It is a shared secret that usability testing of your product is a crucial step to delivering flawless user experiences – that convert visitors to buyers.
It differs from regular testing in a few ways. For example, it requires you to step into the minds of customers and identify areas where they find difficult to operate, or features that they find less usableand, work on to further enhance the UI and UX of the product with the available information.
Bottom line: If you want to improve your customer conversion, usability testing is a must.
And in this blog, we are going to share 5 actionable tips you need to know about usability testing of your site.
Note: The word – site/ product/ application is used interchangeably throughout this blog.
Let’s get started!
1. Integrate UI/UX tests in the early stages of the SDLC
As opposed to testing in the later stages of the Software development life cycle (SDLC), UI/UX testing process must begin as early as from the ‘Analyze’ stage of the product development.
Analyze – In this stage, the UI/UX consultants or Engineers will work around researching the users of your product: identify the target audience, different personas, and their demographics. The result of this process is creating a user journey, which we’ll discuss in the next part of the blog.
Design – As the name suggests, this stage will focus on designing the UI and UX of the product.
UI (User Interface) represents how things work, and UX (User Experience) represents how things look on your site. The working of the UI/UX much resembles the right and left part of our brain.
Information design focuses on the UI; the designer will work on how things are to be presented on the site, whereas, Visual Design, the designer will focus on creating an intuitive UX.
The combination of both visual and information design is called interactive design. It stresses the fact that the UI and UX of the site should work hand in hand.
UI/UX review is where the development and testing start to take place.
Test – In this stage, Internal QA can start testing or invite a group of ideal end-users and perform the UI and usability testing of the product. The user feedback or the usability gaps identified in this process can be put to use to improve the usability of the product.
2. Create a User Journey
“We spend a lot of time designing the bridge, but not enough time thinking about the people who are crossing it.”
Choose the right persona
As soon as the requirement is planned, UX consultants or Engineers focus on choosing the right persona for your product.
For example, if your product/site sells formal wear for working women, your ideal audience will be working women and creating other personas like demographics will revolve around them.
Create the stages of a user journey map
Let’s consider our target user is Sarah, an Engineer, 26F. What and how will Sarah operate in your site answers the stages of a user journey – She may navigate around to explore/compare/order/return items on the website.
Improving the usability at each of these stages in a user journey will help to create a smooth user experience for a user.
Identify actions, mindsets and emotions
The actions, mindsets and emotions for each of the aforementioned stages will differ. Identifying the difference in each of these is the key to fill the UX gaps and craft an intuitive user journey.
Consider touchpoints and channels
Let’s take the example of our imaginary user, Sarah.
She may choose to check out after placing the order in mobile phone and switch to a PC to complete the payment process or in another scenario; she may want to cancel after placing the order.
She will choose to use any of the touchpoints available for her to do it: call the customer care and cancel the order or go up on site to cancel it.
Ensuring the product works fine and is usable across these multiple channels and touchpoints will help your customers have a coherent user experience.
Look at Opportunities & Barrier
Plenty of opportunities and barriers are bound to occur when crafting an ideal customer journey. Identifying and working on them in each of these steps will help to create a balanced UI/UX for users.
3. Usability Checklist for great UI
“What works is good, integrated design that fills a need – carefully thought out, well-executed and tested.” – Steve Krug, UX Expert
Nielson Norman Group, the world leader in User experience design, provides 10 usability checklists for a great UI/UX
User control and freedom
Users should have the freedom to navigate around the product and be able to Undo or Redo their actions. Users should have control over the product and not the other way around.
Match between system and the real world
The product should speak real-world language and jargons and provide an experience of the same rather than systems’ language. For example, allowing users to swipe or turn a page in an online book reading app provides a similar experience as they would have in the real world.
Visibility of system status
The product should always allow users to stay in the know about what’s going on when they act on feedback within a reasonable time. Example, showing completion % when uploading a file.
Consistency and standards
The product should strictly adhere to the consistency and standards within the product suites.
For example, if a specific colour is associated with the CTA button, you should carefully refrain from using the same colour for other actions. Similarly, it would be best if you did not break other consistencies like changing the sides of ‘Accept/Decline’ etc.
Breaking the consistent pattern will leave users with confusion and bad user experience.
Help and Documentation
The product should provide necessary help and documentation to the users, when they are using it. For example, you can provide virtual tours of your product for first time users. It should also allow the users to have the control and freedom to accept or reject the help provided.
Recognition rather than recall
The users need not have to recall every action they need to take when using your product. It should have an easy icon for users to act instead of having to recall how to perform that.
For example, having an X icon on the top right helps users to close an action quickly as it’s easy to recognize than having to recall every time how it should be closed otherwise.
Also, as a user, one should never have to devote a millisecond of thought to whether things on your app/site are clickable-or not.
Flexibility and efficiency of use
Users, experienced or new, should have the flexibility to use the app in a way they prefer to. A rigid flow of the product may result in user abandoning the action altogether.
For example, a more experienced person may use ‘Enter’ to send a message, and a new user may choose to click the ‘Send’ icon for the same action. Both have the flexibility to choose either of these options in addition to being efficient.
Aesthetic and minimalistic design
Your site/product should always use graphics, animation or pictures when necessary and not just use it as a decorative element. Using too many colours or aesthetics can result in a system-centric product rather than a user-centric one.
Amazon excels in offering a minimalistic user-oriented UI that serves best to both newcomers and digital early adopters.
Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
Your website should help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors.
For example, if users are allowed to order only 5 units at any given time, and when the user is trying to order more than 5, the system should notify the error and help to diagnose and recover from that error.
Preventing errors from happening is even better than allowing it in the first place.
For the same example above, the system should prevent a user from ordering more than 5 units, rather than helping them to recover from that error.
4. Choose the right usability testing methods
You should choose the right usability testing methods based on your objectives, target audiences and resources. The two types of usability testing include:
A moderated testing type will invite participants to take part in the testing process either in-person or remotely, supervised by a moderator. The moderator can ask questions to the participants or answer their queries.
An unmoderated testing type will have participants taking part in the testing process at their own comforts like they can be at home and use their own devices to test the product. It is done without a moderator.
Lab usability testing: Facilitator is present to gather feedback and evaluate user experience from actual user groups. It is done in person or through phone or video interviews when done remotely.
Card Sorting: Create cards with your actions and products and have users arrange them in logical categories. It is done to obtain the user’s perspective on the flow or the menu.
Keystroke modelling: Once keystrokes, pointing, scrolling, etc., are defined, you need to compare the time it would take a user to perform these actions using different interfaces.
Session recordings: Usually conducted through a platform that records the session, tracks metrics and randomizes tasks and groups.
First-click testing: Only requirement for the user is to point where they would first click to accomplish a specific action.
Eye-tracking: Eye-tracking aims to find out what catches and keeps the user’s attention using heat maps
A/B Testing: The users are split into two groups randomly and shown the same content with a slight change in the features.
5. Choose the right usability testing tools
There are various usability testing tools available in the market. The picture below (in no specific order) represents the most widely used tools used for both moderated and unmoderated testing like:
- User Testing
Now that we have all the usability testing tips, methods and tools in place, creating a usability test plan for your site becomes less daunting. Before you take your next step to craft exceptional user experience, check this usability testing scorecard from Zuci here.