A usability test is a measure of how easy a product or service is to use. Testing helps us to identify opportunities for improvement and to validate designs with real target users. This in turn enables us to improve designs before any expensive development has started.
In digital mediums, usability is necessary for commercial success. People leave a website or app often without returning for a variety of different reasons, such as:
- The landing page doesn’t clearly state what the company offers
- People get lost in the navigation
- Information is hard to read or understand
Closing the browser window or deleting the app is the default action when a user faces any difficulty. And because switching to another service is very easy, your product needs to be usable and useful to retain customers.
Usability is typically composed of 5 elements:
- Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
- Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
- Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they re-establish proficiency?
- Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
- Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?
A usability test can be performed in a lab with one-way glass, in your office or remotely using testing software. The test has 3 components:
- We get hold of some representative users of your service.
- We ask the users to perform taskswith the design
- We observe what the users do, where they succeed, and where they have difficulties with the user interface.
Rather than testing with many users up front, it’s better to do a test with a few users, typically 5, then iterate the design and test again to validate the changes. Testing with 5 users reveals 85% of usability issues, with diminishing returns on subsequent tests. We recommend testing with 15 users overall, so that you can have 3 rounds of iteration and address 99% of usability issues.