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How to.. Run a Usability Test

Usability tests are one of the most important processes for testing, challenging or verifying your product. Usability tests are created to give you insights into what needs to change, what’s working and what to do more of and they’re crucial for the growth stage of your startup.

We love this definition by Usability.gov:

“Usability testing is a technique used in user-centered interaction design to evaluate a product by testing it on users.”

What is your goal when building a Usability Test?

It’s important to come up with focused goal that you will be able to test, measure and analyze. These are some examples:

  • collect qualitative and quantitative data
  • determine the participant’s satisfaction with the product
  • generally Identify Usability Problems

What are the main Benefits of Usability Tests?

Usability tests have many benefits which when performed should satisfy your goals. Here are some general ones:

  • Identify changes to create a better user experience
  • Measure how long certain tasks take to complete
  • Identify how satisfied participants are with your product
  • Identify the struggles your participants experience during the process

4 Critical Steps:

To simplify the process of building and running a Usability Test, follow these 4 steps. (in a future post we’ll go into more detail about

  1. Develop a test plan
  2. Recruit participants
  3. Perform the test (there are several ways to moderate and monitor- see below)
  4. Analyze and report your insights

Tips on Measuring and Moderating

There are several types of usability tests depending on the kind of research goals you have. The 3 Main Testing methods are: (we love these definitions by MeasuringU)

  • Moderated in-person: A facilitator is present with the participant
  • Moderated remote: The participant and facilitator are not in person, but the facilitator is moderating the test. (Often done using screen sharing)
  • Unmoderated remote: Software from MeasuringU or Loop11 administers tasks automatically to participants around the world. In many cases you have a recording of the participant’s screen and webcam, but there’s no way to simultaneously interact with all participants.

Remember, there are many ways to perform a usability test. You have to figure out the one that works for your specific product or service. You might need to perform multiple usability tests to benchmark your progress, and get quality insights.

Finding new opportunities for growth and then executing the strategies to make that happen is our passion. Let us know your biggest struggles when building a usability test in the comments!