The closer you are to a project, the less likely you are able to understand how it will be received by your target audience. Using an effective usability testing methodology helps you identify how intuitive and rewarding your product is for your users.
This is where the three-step usability testing methodology comes in.
Plan, Test, Analyze
Implementing the Plan, Test, and Analyze usability testing methodology will help you gain valuable insights from users on how they perceive and use your product.
Asking the right questions so that the insights collected can help you make effective decisions.
Establishing and executing on recruitment requirements, test goals, test methodologies, and more.
Interpret the results based on the test goal, the question set, users, and product intent.
Benefits include learning:
- How can you improve product to drive engagement and retention;
- What areas of the product are resonating with your customers;
- How you should be focusing design and engineering resources; and,
- Understanding how to frame your marketing and sales to best promote the product.
Leveraging usability testing to drive value
A sound usability testing methodology effectively leads teams to better digital ecosystem decisions, focusing efforts to improve customer experience, reach business objectives, and improve operational efficiencies.
Usability testing success story: Nymi
With Nymi, we were asked to identify issues with setting up their secure wristband with their custom application, and how this may impact adoption.
Our usability test process successfully identified
- Pre-existing issues with the hardware product and software that would prevent a successful usability test;
- Usability and optimization considerations across all consumer touchpoints, from physical to digital;
- Previously unknown friction points where users were unable to meet their goals and that would impact product adoption.
A more in-depth look at the three step method
A major key in usability testing is asking the right questions so that the insights collected can help you make effective decisions.
When user testing, this is achieved by designing task-based scripts to guide users in a straightforward and realistic manner throughout the testing process.
Prior to any user testing, we work through an internal product review. This highlights areas of concern which may derail the user testing methodology. It can also encourage additional work to resolve these matters before conducting a user test so we can get the most out of our user testing effort.
Internal product reviews allow us to understand the product in specific detail and identify how effectively it serves users. We put ourselves in the position of a typical user, considering factors such as user flows, the clarity of language, interface, and actions, overall ease of use, and the value a user can expect to get out of the app, based on its position in the market.
In addition to this process, we formulate high-level flow maps to define the different interactions within the product, as users move from screen to screen. This helps guide user test tasks in general while pinpointing key flows, screens, and steps where users may have difficulty in understanding and proceeding towards a goal.
We compose our scripts in accordance with these pain points along with standard use cases we identify based on personas, customer journeys, and existing product use. This means that the wording used to guide users as they are testing the digital product and the questions that we ask are geared towards validating areas of concern, while also uncovering new insights based on the standard use of the product.
In cases where we require a stronger focus on certain tasks to validate areas of concern or specific test goals, we may decide to have two separate test scripts: one for standard users to work through as they naturally would, and a second test that includes specific tasks to validate areas of concern, even if this means requiring the users to perform behaviours outside of their standard use.
Additional tests may also be written based on user personas, groups, and goals.
The benefits of beginning with an expert review
We’re digital product experts, wherein the roots of our day to day work—strategy, design, validation—are all based on shipping product. With years of experience testing and shipping award-winning digital products, we have the knowledge and experience to highlight key pain points of users.
These pain points highlight weaknesses in the product which should be addressed prior to building a new interface or improving the existing product, ensuring that ongoing usability tests uncover the most helpful insights, rather than just the most obvious.
Our keen understanding of business, digital, user, product, and technical considerations allow us to bring additional insight to the table, from interface design to user engagement, digital strategy to ongoing validation.
Recruiting users for tests is a vital component of successful usability testing. There are many varying factors that play into recruitment requirements, including your test goals, personas, test methodologies, and more.
In some cases, testing with users who are too familiar with your business or product can limit insight, while in other cases, you may need the insight of an expert user. We help you find the right mix of users based on your test goals.
When conducting user tests, the closer we can get to having the user perform as they would were they using the product on their own, the more effective insight we can draw.
In conducting each test, we are careful to not bias the test with handholding or otherwise guiding the user in ways that undermine the veracity of the user’s behavior. Again, the more natural their behavior, the more insight we can draw from them.
Usability testing success story: Ontario Government
We were tasked with identifying service gaps through digital applications and communications across a number of programs.
We successfully identified
- Language and copywriting issues that were preventing a significant number of applications from being completed correctly, ultimately causing significant followup work for staff and service providers;
- How to streamline application, assessment, and fulfillment processes for users to reduce staff requirements and improve communication and expectation setting with users.
The final stage in the user testing methodology requires the analysis of all the data collected.
More than articulating user feedback, the analysis stage is where you interpret the results based on the test goal, the question set, users, and product intent. This allows you to identify key benefits, areas of weakness, and opportunities to improve, simplifying, and otherwise, deliver value with the product.
Key to this phase is finding a path to actionable next steps. The transition from research insights to product and service improvements is a common gap in organizational processes. Our three-phase approach is designed to help ship meaningful improvements that serve the organization and users.