User testing is the process through which the interface and functions of a website, app, product, or service are tested by real users who perform specific tasks in realistic conditions. The purpose of this process is to evaluate the usability of that website or app and to decide whether the product is ready to be launched for real users. For relevant results, the testers shouldn’t be directed too much and should be allowed to interact with the website or app naturally, to see if the system is intuitive and comfortable enough to use by people who aren’t yet familiar with it.
Why is user testing important?
What does user testing mean? As I’ve told you above, user testing is the process through which the interface and functions of a website, app, product, or service are tested by real users who perform specific tasks in realistic conditions. The purpose of this process is to evaluate the usability of that website or app and to decide whether the product is ready to be launched for real users.
Software testing helps to understand where your software has errors, missing requirements or gaps. Testing software can be done using automated tools or manually.
Types of user testing
- Usability testing(UX research)
What does usability testing mean? UX research definition: We can define this concept as the efficiency and ease of use of a web page or an electronic interface (or an e-commerce site) by a user in order to satisfy the latter’s needs.
In other words, when I enter an e-commerce site, and after I have correctly identified the purpose of that site, which corresponds to my purpose as a user, to buy a product or service, the fact that I will not find what I want, not interacting with your product, mistakes that will practically lead to the abandonment of the respective site, it is not my fault, that I am not sufficiently technical, or sufficiently versed in using the online stores, but it is the fault of that online store that did not prepare the site for a more straightforward use by any people.
Website usability is a mandatory requirement for an e-commerce site. An online store that does not fulfill its purpose of selling products due to poor usability cannot be called an online store or e-commerce site. It dissociates itself from the purpose for which it was created to sell! It merely goes wrong, and sometimes it can go bankrupt!
In website usability testing are measured several aspects: eye-tracking, heat maps, click trough maps, user journey and more.
Another type of user testing is represented by surveys, which help you to obtain user feedback about your product from your customers, things that would help you to improve it. It’s one of the easiest ways to obtain data from your customers because they can complete the surveys via any advice and from anywhere.
It’s recommended to appeal to customer satisfaction surveys if you want to receive, in a short time, a lot of responses from your customers regarding your product. The information gathered will help your UX designer to have clear indications in the design process and on information architecture to deliver a perfect user journey for your customers.
- A/B testing
This type of testing is one of the most efficient and fast ways to increase the number of conversions. A/B testing is the process by which two different variants of an email are sent to different groups of subscribers. It is important to remember that each group must receive only one variant of the email, not both, and they must be sent on the same day and at the same time. Then, track customer reactions and determine which variant has aroused the reactions that help you meet the proposed goals. By testing A/B, you will learn a lot about your site visitors and the type of content they respond best to it.
The purpose of A/B testing is to learn as much about customer behavior and preferences. To achieve the desired results, put into practice everything you have learned.
- Focus group
The focus group is a qualitative research technique, which consists in establishing a discussion on a given topic with a group consisting of 8-10 participants, usually for 1-2 hours. The method allows for obtaining in-depth information on the motivations and behaviors of the interest categories.
This technique can be used in various fields, such as:
- Testing messages, products, advertisements, etc.
- Identifying perceptions about a product, organization, service or concept
- Evaluation/testing of advertising and promotional campaigns
- Identification of the profile of a target group
- Identifying the characteristics of a brand (brand image) and positioning it among competing brands on the market
- Identifying the decision-making mechanisms that underlie the choice between several alternatives
- Identification of attitudes towards a product, towards an idea or a problem
- Identifying the set of values and aspirations of a target segment
- Drafting an advertising campaign, marketing strategy
- Establishing the strengths and weaknesses of a concept, program, or product/brand, etc.
Sometimes focus-group research is also a preamble to quantitative research because by identifying behavioral tendencies, it is easier to compose the questionnaire for quantitative research.
- Beta testing
The Beta version is considered the complete version, which is not yet ready for the end-user due to the lack of tests in real conditions and incorrect errors.
Websites, operating systems, and different applications can be in the Beta testing stage. Beta testing can be opened, launched for anyone who wants to try the unstable version, and closed Beta testing, designed for testing in a closed or restricted group.
The Beta version aims to finish the performance testing and the need to identify problems that cause errors.
Permission for open testing of the Beta version is a possibility to try software under real conditions because to understand how an application will work; you will need to check the functioning of the Beta version, which can help the developer eliminate errors.
Beta testing of the software is carried out together with all other testing tools: computer or other device and the rest of the applications.
Beta testers provide information about the Beta version, errors, using feedback, or by automatically sending statistics. Experienced testers can provide information that can be useful to developers, help expand or add different features, and other ideas for improvement.
How to do user testing?
In order to gain as many relevant insights as possible from user research, thorough preparation is required. For example, it should be clearly defined right from the beginning to whom the end product is aimed. For this purpose, it is advisable to develop personas and scenarios in advance. Testing tools help the project team throughout the implementation to gain a shared understanding of the end user’s essential needs.
- Defining a goal
The form and extent to which a user-test is performed depend on the objective being pursued. The approach differs significantly, depending on whether an existing page is reviewed due to a planned redesign, a new function is tested for usability, or the decision-makers have to be convinced with the help of a test. The starting point of each user test is, therefore, primarily the determination of the objective of the investigation and what exactly should be achieved. Based on this, further steps of the user-testing are derived and decisions made.
- Prepare the test object
These are usually used at the very beginning of a project. These are mainly used to validate a first concept or an idea. For this purpose, the prototype should be kept as simple as possible and get along without any hi-fidelity elements (design, undesirable effects, etc.). Only in this way it can guarantee that the reaction of the test person is based exclusively on fundamental criticism and not influenced by beautiful things.
These are finished websites, apps, or pixel-precise visual designs. The more perfected a prototype is, the less it is questioned purely in terms of content. In contrast to “Lo-Fidelity Prototypes”, helpful feedback on visual aspects can also be found here utilizing a user test.
In order to clearly define the context for the test subject, it is essential in both cases that the test object imitates the desired user experience as realistically as possible. This can be, for example, in the form of an illustrated mobile phone as the basis for the “Lo-Fidelity prototype” or by having the “Hi-Fidelity prototype” tested on a mobile phone.
- Select the test method
There is a diversity of test methods, and each expert has his personal preferences. The choice of the appropriate method should depend primarily on the maturity of the prototype being tested. For the goal of this white paper, the following sections will focus on moderated in-house user testing.
- Write a test script
A typical test script consists of a warmup, a body, and a cooldown. It takes between 5 to 10 tasks and usually takes between 30 and 60 minutes. To get the most out of your time and get comparable results, a well-structured test script is needed. It serves as a guide for the moderator and will not be given to the test person. Therein, the tasks the subject has to deal with are listed sequentially and supplemented with a hypothesis and a goal. The hypothesis helps the facilitator to understand the purpose of each task during the test. This can prevent the moderator from losing the thread during the test. The predetermined goal helps in the later analysis.
The respective context of the test is explained to the test person with the aid of a scenario. This is a situation description that supports the test person to put himself in the starting position relevant to the test. Building on this, the questions follow.
- Recruit test subjects
You’ll need to locate and recruit test subjects to complete your user evaluation. Regardless of your favorite way of software testing (user feedback, eye tracking, mouse movements), consumer testing requires real clients, actual members of your intended audience, and those who match your client personas to take the test. This permits you to find outcomes and data from the men and women who matter most; the customers who buy, use, and promote your goods. People Interacting with your product are best in user research.
Recruiting the right subjects for the test can be time-consuming and should not be underestimated. To keep the bounce rate low, recruitment should be made promptly on the test date (at most 3-4 days in advance). Defaults should be factored in from the beginning, which means that more than the required number of test persons must be mobilized. Those who undertake the recruitment themselves should plan sufficient time to write to the test persons, to screen them through a survey, and to provide appropriate letters before the test.
Selection – To obtain meaningful and valuable results with a user test, it is crucial when recruiting the test persons to ensure that they correspond to the actual target group (persona). Besides, it is important to emphasize a balanced mix of subjects to prevent one-sided results.
So those usability problems cannot be circumvented based on prior knowledge, involved team members or employees who already know the test object are extremely unfavorable subjects. Family members and friends are also not suitable as subjects because they rarely correspond to the actual persona and are biased. These people tend to be kind, which does not lead to accurate and, therefore, usable results. Also, a survey with arbitrary test subjects is, in most cases, strongly advised against. The results of this type of test would have to be treated with extreme caution; otherwise, one might make a momentous decision based on a falsified test result. Despite all the rules: testing, no matter with whom, is still better than not to test.
The right number – One of the most discussed topics when it comes to uncovering usability issues is the right number of subjects. Performing a large number of individual tests for one, and the same study means a substantial additional effort and makes subsequent evaluation unnecessarily tricky. According to a study, 5 test persons are already enough to identify the most critical weak points. On the other hand, if you value statistical relevance, you need to invest a little more time.
Schedule – It is recommended that the schedule for each user test is not too close to each other. A short break of about 30 minutes after each round leaves room for the unforeseen and allows a short exchange among the participants to discuss the findings.
Scheduling – To ensure a smooth process and to prevent subjects from appearing late, in the wrong place, or not at all because of missing information, provide all participants with the address, a contact name, and an emergency number early enough. Short memory on the morning before the test prevents the subjects from forgetting their appointment.
- Prepare the site and infrastructure
The space you choose for the test should be quiet and spread a pleasant atmosphere. The subject should feel as comfortable as possible. If several people want to follow the test, it makes sense to add a second room, if possible, not within earshot. The audience can then follow the progress of the test on a screen without the test person feeling disturbed.
- Carry out a test run
To be certain that nothing goes wrong during the actual test, a test run with an uninvolved person should be done before that. Thus, it can be determined whether the planned time frame can be met, the technical setup works, and the instructions to the test persons are understandable and consistent.
- Evaluation and analysis
The evaluation of the data should take place as soon as possible after the execution; otherwise, one runs the risk that important details are forgotten. If possible, all involved experts (facilitator and observer) should write down their first personal assessments individually and independently. If the assessments are compared afterward, the result is a more neutral evaluation. Also, the likelihood is less than a problem that will be overlooked.
Rough prototypes or poorly realistic conditions can cause usability problems that would not occur under real-world conditions and with full functionality. If the conditions are not realistic, this must be taken into account in the evaluation. What makes this even more complicated, since real user problems must be distinguished from problems due to the conditions.
User Testing vs. Usability Testing
So, what is the difference between user testing and usability testing?
First of all, user testing refers to the emotions, responses, and behaviors of a customer regarding your products from the moment he or she starts using it to the moment they stop.
Secondly, usability testing is a different method besides user testing. This method refers to the way that one of your customers can use your product to accomplish a specific goal, thing that really plays a part in the user experience, but what is really different from user testing, is that usability testing does not cover the entire experience.
Is the user testing legitimate? The answer is “yes”; it is totally legitimate.
What is user experience testing? Well, it is the process of collecting data from the user, qualitative and quantitative ones, to improve user experience.