There are questions for which the answer is always “yes.” Should you follow your project timelines? Yes. Do you want to watch another episode of Friends? Yes. Every episode is amazing. Does usability testing matter? Yes. Absolutely. Always. It plays an important role in creating a good user experience, and here’s why.
The usability of a product defines us how effectively, efficiently, and satisfactorily its users can use the products. In a word, “Don’t make a user think.”

How Usability Testing plays a crucial role?

  1. Making products flawless and also removing flaws – It ensures that a product with fewer or no interface flaws is what is being released to the users. It eliminates the flaws that would have been made during the prototyping phase so that a better interface can be designed that will be user-centered.
  2. Helps to get user reviews and feedback on the product – The responses and reactions gathered from the users who were tested are always used to arrive at a better decision on making a better interface.
  3. Get to know about the user’s expectations – You get an opportunity to watch your product been used while the user gives their feedback in real-time. It gives an insight into whether such a product is one that users will appreciate or it’s a work of fantasy.
  4. Ease of completing the goal – Good usability products arouse a good emotional experience and make the user feel happy and enjoyable, which will improve the user experience of the product.
  5. Good exercise in terms of ROI – Issues and potential problems are highlighted before the product is launched and gets rectified at an earlier stage, which in turn meets the needs and expectations of the users, develops a successful service, higher customer satisfaction, retention, and repeat business.

At which phase Usability Testing should be conducted?

Usability testing is not something that we do after production before launch.  It should start well before we begin our work together, and can be continued after the product has been rolled out and when you get a sneaking suspicion that something is off.
Doing usability testing the right way at the right time with the right set of people reduces the risk of building the wrong product, thereby saving time, money, and other precious resources.
For example, a slight tweak in design change (When users wanted to edit an item in the shopping cart) for ZARA increased its success rate from 33% to 100%.

What are the key things to be tested?

Testing needs to be done on the basis of 6 quality components.

Usability Testing Parameters

  1. Efficiency: To check how effectively users can perform a task after they have learned the design.
  2. Errors: What errors do users make, the severity of those errors, and the way to recover from those errors?
  3. Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design? Are instructions clear? Are the instructions necessary? Do labels make sense? Do certain words are understandable?
  4. Discoverability: Are common items easy for new users to find?
  5. Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?
  6. Memorability: To check how easily users can remember and reestablish certain design after a period of not using it.

What in the world is “Think Aloud Protocol”?

The think-aloud method is critical for getting inside the user’s head. Usability tests where users think out loud are cheap, robust, flexible, and easy to learn. In thinking aloud test, you ask test participants to use the system while continuously thinking out loud — that is, simply verbalizing their thoughts, what do they expect to happen after an interaction, and so on as they move through the user interface.
It lets you discover what users think about your design, their misconceptions, which usually turn into actionable redesign recommendations, why they guess wrong about some parts of the UI, and why they find others easy to use.
For example, if you’re testing Myntra App, you should expect people to say things like, “Hm, this looks like an app for ordering clothes. I wonder how I filter things here? Maybe if I tap here, I’ll see it.” Give them an example like that one to help them understand what you’re looking for.

Pro Tips

  1. There is a study stating, 5 people can help you find 85% of the usability problems. However, speaking to 3 people will generally help you find more problems, then you can fix them.
  2. Keeping a track of problems that are encountered by users helps a lot. We can use this information to understand how likely a user is to encounter a problem before and after user-testing.
  3. Speak less, observe more – To keep the testing session as real as possible, you should stop talking to the participant as soon as you give your scenario and watch them using your prototype.
  4. Keep in mind that the users are not the ones being tested. It’s the design.

Wrapping Up

To designers: Test out your ideas with real users in real scenarios as quickly as possible. The insights you gain from observing how actual users use your product are priceless. Every single iteration is an important step forward. Enjoy the testing process—it improves your designs!
To clients: Don’t make designers finish projects without testing. Make the most of the opportunities to evaluate your products before the first line of code is written. It might take one extra week and cost a bit more, but you’ll save in the end and gain a hundred times over by doing it!
Remember, stop making usability mistakes as they can kill your product.