Usability testing refers to the process of determining how well your customers are able to engage with your digital platforms and non-digital assets. Usability testing is one of the most popular research methods employed within the broad umbrella of experience design testing, to determine how well your user experience platforms are meeting your customers’ needs and expectations.

Usability testing puts the customer at the centre of the business and provides your business with actionable insights into how your customers can better engage with your products or services. As the world’s products and services market continues to prioritize the digital landscape, usability testing is considered an integral component of developing a world-class product or service that can be embraced by all types of users. As usability testing has modernized to capture and test the needs of contemporary consumers, the current model of usability testing looks very different from when it first appeared in the corporate world. Read on to find our guide to usability testing in 2019.

Usability Testing Methods

The two most popular methods of usability testing in 2019 are known as ‘Moderated User Testing’ and ‘Online User Testing’.

Moderated User Testing: Moderated user testing involves interviewing and observing users in a one-on-one environment, while they complete certain tasks on a business’ existing digital platforms. As the interviewer and subject are together throughout the test, the interviewer is able to probe deeper into specific behaviours and preferences that are observed as the user completes certain tasks.

Online User Testing: Online user testing utilizes a larger segment of participants and a broader geographical scope, to test users as they complete tasks online and within their home environments. This method of testing brings you as close as possible to capturing the diverse range of people who will be using the product and how different environments impact on the usability of the product or service. People can use technology in many unexpected ways. Online user testing allows a business to determine how real users reject and reappropriate the intended use of certain functions within a digital platform.

Prototypes

Usability testing in 2019 is all about prototypes. Testing a new application or website design in the prototype stage rather than in the final stages of a product launch has completely revolutionized the usability research industry.

Prototypes enable all those working on a specific project to quickly modify, create and test new ideas. It enables developers the flexibility to explore design options before the website or application reaches the later stages of the development process. Prototypes provide a fully-functional and interactive representation of the proposed digital platform that can be subject to user testing. This enables user testing researchers to quickly observe how a design will work with real users and suggest modifications that are inexpensive and simple to apply in the prototype stage.

Contextual Enquiry

Conducting contextual enquiries is an important component of usability testing in 2019. This type of enquiry should be utilised throughout all stages of the design and development process of a new application or website. At the start of the design process, this method of enquiry can steer developers away from certain decisions. In the evaluation stage, it can be used to observe how a prototype performs (or underperforms) within a variety of real-world environments and contextual settings.

The contextual enquiry in usability testing enables researchers to observe how the behaviours and decisions of users are affected as a result of their natural environment. When being observed in an unfamiliar and sterile research room, real people are unlikely to act naturally and utilise a product in their usual way. Conducting a contextual enquiry in a person’s natural habitat enables the user to be at ease and produces more accurate data for businesses to utilise.

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Usability testing is an essential step in the creation of a product or service that can easily be utilised and enjoyed by real, everyday people. To deliver high-class products for your customers, it is essential to engage the services of a leading experience research and strategy consultant.

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