What is it?
Usability testing is a research-based method of verifying that a
design will meet the needs of a site or application’s users. In a
usability test, end-users attempt to complete tasks in a paper or
click-through prototype. By testing with even a small sample of
users, most major usability issues can be uncovered and
corrected before the system is built.
Who uses it?
UI Designers use usability tests to vet and refine their designs
(since no design is perfect the first time).
Business Decision Makers use usability testing to fortify risky
areas of a system. By structuring tasks specifically to test critical
functionality before the system is released, usability tests
demonstrate that the most important features will work (and if not,
what can be done about it).
Product Owners can use the results of usability tests to identify
areas that are likely to benefit from supporting material around and
outside the system. This can become the basis for
documentation, training, and marketing material.
How It Works
- Figure out the test focus. Together, the project team
identifies the most important or risky areas of the system.
These become of the focus of the test activities, or tasks.
- Prep the prototype, tasks, and users. Draft tasks and
ready the prototype. The data in the prototype should be
realistic for the tasks. If not, users will be confused.
- Run the tests. A test session has a facilitator, one or two
test users, and observers from the project team. Observers
note whenever users get stuck or seem confused.
- Review findings and adjust the design. The project team
reconvenes to review findings and decide how to address
the issues that were raised.