Have you ever been confused by looking for the contact form on a website? Have you ever met a complicated menu leading you to the pages you didn’t want to go to? Indeed, you’ve been in the situation at least once. Everyone has experienced usability problems when using a web app, a mobile app, or other software solutions.
Why do these usability issues arise, and is it possible to avoid them? In this article, you will get familiar with usability testing. It is considered the best way to ensure a software product’s high efficiency, and rest assured that end-users will be satisfied with it.
Usability is all about how the software looks, how a user feels while using it, and whether functionalities are built in such a way to meet the user’s goals. Usability testing is aimed to check a lot of things:
- User satisfaction. Is an end-user satisfied to use the website?
- Mistakes. How many mistakes does the user make while visiting the website?
- Learnability. How easy is it for the user to perform operations while visiting the website for the first time?
- Effectiveness. How quickly can the user perform operations after his first visit to the website?
- Memorability. How quickly can the user remember how to use the website after a long break?
Usually, website usability is tested by real users who are able to quickly detect the issues designers or developers haven’t managed to spot.
Usability testing is especially meaningful for new software products produced mainly by startups. It can help verify the idea of a minimal viable product (MVP) and confirm that your product will meet target users’ demands.
Related article: You might be interested in frontend testing.
Why Do You Need to Test an MVP?
Are you looking for an effective way to validate your startup idea? Creating and testing a minimal viable product and usability testing will come in handy. As you know, an MVP is a software product that has a minimal set of functionalities that allow it to work. Imagine, you have got an MVP. But how do you know that it works as expected and end-users will be satisfied with it? Any MVP should undergo a series of testing for the following reasons:
- Validate your startup idea. Real-life users can test your product’s functionalities and provide feedback early before you invest too much money. The feedback will help you understand and see all the product’s strengths and weaknesses to make the required improvements in time. The feedback also allows to include insufficient functionalities in project planning.
- Make sure an MVP meets end-users expectations. Testers will check if everything works as users expect it to work. They check functionality, design, interface and report when something works incorrectly or is missing.
- Eliminate redundant or unnecessary actions performed by users. Sometimes, your website procedures can be complicated, and a user should follow too many steps to make a purchase, for instance. Testers will check if it is possible to simplify a given procedure.
- Check an MVP for errors. Usability testing aims to find minor mistakes such as typos, wrong or broken links, wrong content, unoptimized images, and many more. Even these small errors can frustrate your end-users and leave a bad impression on them.
- Build a basis for your brand loyalty. Being empathic to your audience, providing a user-friendly and intuitive user journey, delivering excellent user experience — all this adds value to the table. Users will likely come back to your website again and again.
As you can see, usability testing is the best way to ensure that your idea is valid, and users will face no issues and bugs while using it. It works efficiently not for MVP but is fundamental for all software products — from a simple mobile app to the multi-modular enterprise-level system.
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4 Steps of Usability Testing Process
To get the most reliable outcomes of usability testing, you should create an effective testing strategy. Below you can find the top five steps to follow for efficient usability testing.
Step 1 - Planning
Planning is an essential step in performing any type of testing. At this stage, you should define the goals of usability testing and what value you will get. During the planning, you need to determine your target audience and the list of questions you want to get answers for, for example, “Is my web app is easy to interact with?”
It is also critical to define how and how long you will test your software, how many testers or real-life users you will need, either test sessions will be recorded or not.
Step 2 - Hiring testers
If you don’t have test engineers in house, you will likely be searching for a reliable QA team. Today, there are lots of options to find testers for usability testing — from asking your friends and colleagues to test to hiring a professional testing company. The latter variant is better because the results are more accurate and reliable as testing is run by professionals.
Step 3 - Creating scenarios
At the same time, when you are looking for testers, you can create various scenarios which means all possible situations that can arise when the user is on your website. For example, the ability to subscribe to your blog page, the ability to filter the products or services according to the specific category.
Step 4 - Executing tests
Gather all the data needed to perform usability testing: target audience, a set of scenarios, desired outcomes, questions, etc. Follow the pre-defined procedures and processes for each test scenario.
Once tests are completed, testers should analyze the results. It is recommended to conduct this analysis as soon as possible not to miss anything. The bugs are documented and then prioritized. In the next section, you will learn how to analyze usability testing outputs.
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Tangible Outputs of Usability Testing
The results of usability testing should be analyzed appropriately. Before the analysis, the goals of testing must be revised. First off, you should pay attention to the most critical issues you wanted to test.
The next step is organizing the data: problems users met while testing, a sequence of actions they took, and the feedback they gave. Each problem must be documented separately. Every action the user took should be described in detail.
Qualitative and quantitative data analyses are conducted at the end of usability testing. Quantitative analysis allows identifying the most frequent issues users meet when using your web app. The analysis helps to calculate the following:
- satisfaction rate
- time spent to take an action
- percentage of people who made the same error
- percentage of users who were successful
Qualitative analysis allows testers to figure out why issues arise and how they can be solved. During qualitative analysis, the same issues are grouped, categorized, and prioritized to detect the most common issues and decide on how to fix those.
How Much Time Usability Testing Takes
It is quite difficult to calculate the time it takes to test website usability. Usually, a lot of factors affect the duration:
- planning and scheduling
- executing tests
- analyzing test outputs
- the number of people who will be involved in testing
- the complexity of test scenarios
- the time needed to document the test results
- and many more
According to Nielsen Norman Group, typically, user testing takes from 60 to 90 minutes. The duration of user testing is greatly affected by various time-wasters such as too many questions, long discussions, subjective ratings, and poorly defined testing flow.
The Cost of Usability Testing Services (Hourly)
Conducting comprehensive usability testing means involving real-life users, professional test engineers, and a lab. Real-life people can join usability testing sessions remotely, directly from their homes. Experienced testers will design the right scenarios, guides and will control the entire process.
The usability testing cost depends on the way you get real-life users, whether you use a lab or not, etc. The more participants are involved in testing, the more you pay. However, you can save thousands by contacting a professional software testing company that has highly-skilled and experienced QA and test engineers on board. Such companies definitely have hundreds of reliable users who have already taken part in similar projects and are familiar with how it works. Traditionally, you will be asked to pay according to the hourly rate which is cheaper than hiring testers via a recruiting agency.
The cost of usability testing will also depend on the scope and complexity of your web app project. The number of features to be tested is taken into account in the cost estimation. Let’s see how much usability testing may cost per hour.
Usability testing skills can be easily found among testers and UX designers, user experience researchers, user acceptance testing analysts, etc. Below are some hourly rates available in open sources such as Payscale, for instance. The average rates vary between 12 and 77 dollars per hour, depending on the specialist and his experience.
UX researcher services will cost $40 whereas usability specialist’s skills cost from 20 to 40$. Costs vary from country to country. And that’s where you can reduce costs — consider outsourcing usability testing services from a trusted vendor overseas. For example, it will be cheaper to hire software testing houses in Poland than get the same services in the USA.
While outsourcing, please make sure that the company of your choice specializes in quality assurance and testing, what types of testing it provides, and what documentation you will get. Learn if the company offers bug fixing and development services in case you need to get everything in one place. Besides, if the company specializes in all types of testing, you can ask for other types such as functionality testing, stress testing, penetration testing, and many more.
Learn more about our testing plans to choose the one that suits your project needs.
At Apphawks, we provide full-range usability testing. We offer both lab and remote options, along with professional documentation and testing outputs reports. If needed, we also provide recommendations and services on effective usability bug fixing.
To learn more about our usability testing and hourly rates, feel free to contact us.