Usability Testing is one of the most important methods that companies use to find out how easy it is for the users navigating a website to make a conversion.
This test is not only about how useful or functional a website is, but it also reveals valuable data about user behavior, perception, engagement, etc.
Usually, a usability test is useful in the design process of a website in order to identify the possible barriers that may block users from completing a task. Unlike A/B testing or Multivariate testing, usability testing is a qualitative method. This type of test needs to gather people who are asked to do specific actions on a website, whereas the quantitative methods mentioned above focus on a relevant sample of users in terms of a number of participants. In traditional marketing research, surveying is defined as a quantitative method, the samples have to be randomly extracted from the general collectivity and the sample size has to be relevant to a study.
Qualitative research, on the other hand, includes methods like focus groups or interviews. In the online environment, these methods are adapted, but the same principles apply.
For example, organizing a focus group to evaluate a website in terms of design, ease of use is not the most efficient method to draw significant conclusions. Because people tend to think they would do something a certain way, but in reality usually act differently. So observing their behavior while performing actions on the website, works a lot better than listening to what they have to say about the website.
The main goals of a usability test are to find out:
- How easy it is for users to accomplish a task;
- How quickly the users can accomplish that task after they have learned the design;
- How many errors (perceived as barriers) are made during the process;
- How easily a user can perform at the same level as the first time he tested the website;
After establishing the goals, the next step is planning. The plan should contain a schedule of the activities that need to be done and the tasks for the testers. Moreover, the plan should clearly show when and who is responsible for developing the instruments of the test; recruiting the subjects, methodology, the number of usability testers, the target groups and the demographic and professional profile of the users.
The next step is recruiting the testers according to the plan. In this phase, it is very important to take enough time so to avoid mistakes that can ruin the test. Once you have done that, the test can be run. The users answer the questions that have been formulated in the developing phase of the test. Only after the data has been collected, an analysis of the test results should point to the final conclusions.
The main advantages of running a usability test are:
- Discovering the usability problems before the website/ platform/ application is launched;
- Collecting data from the audience behavior, the potential buyers of your product who will probably become your customers; The test shouldn’t be done by non-consumers, people who will never be in the least interested in the product;
- Making the website easy to use and making sure that its system is effective and efficient at the same time
How to do usability tests correctly
Although a usability test can do wonders for an online business’s profitability, it is important to pay attention to some specific elements when deciding to run this type of test.
One of the worst mistakes would be to recruit unfitting participants: people who do not fit the target profile will certainly affect the quality of the results; the demographics should be statistically set up, so to create an excellent plan for the test.
Another aspect to focus on when setting up a usability test is to test at the right time. Not testing during the proper phase of designing the website may lead to a loss of resources. As it has been mentioned in the previous lines, usability testing is recommended to be done before the product is marketed.