Mastering Usability Testing: Best Practices For Optimal User Interface Design

Mastering Usability Testing

Picture this: you and your team have been working on a product you are sure will be quite popular in the market. So, you complete the design and launch the product only for your users to be confused when using it. What a waste of effort, right?

In case you didn’t know, this is one of the main reasons most startups fail, even with exceptional products.

The best way to avoid such instances is by conducting usability testing. Usability testing allows you to evaluate how easy it is for your users to use your products and modify their designs to meet their expectations.

Mastering Usability Testing: 6 Essential Tips

Considering how vital usability testing is for the survival of your company and brand, you need to be extra cautious when undertaking it. Here are some of the best practices for effective usability testing.

1. Timing Your Usability Tests

regular usability tests

The timing for Usability Testing often determines its efficiency. At first glance, you might be tempted to consider usability testing as the final step of your user interface design process. However, doing so might be a mistake. To run usability tests effectively, consider them part of every stage of your product design process.

Usability design is an iterative process, which means it is repetitive and intertwined with all the steps of the testing lifecycle. The best time to start usability testing is when you finish the first prototypes of your product.

The insight you get from the first usability test will then help you make the first changes to the user interface of your product, after which you should run another usability test.

Making regular usability tests during the product design process and even after launch will help you make regular improvements to the product. This will ultimately help you compete effectively in your market niche.

2. Identifying Target Metrics For Usability Assessment In Advance

Before undertaking usability tests and assessments, you should have a list of target metrics to help you know whether your product is usable. The usability of a products user interface depends on the following metrics:

  • Learnability: Learnability involves how easy it is for your users to learn how to use the product without external help. Your users should learn how to use your product’s User Interface intuitively.
  • Memorability: Can your users easily remember how to use your product without constant reminders?
  • Efficiency: Efficiency determines how adequately your product meets the needs of your users. The user interface should help your users access every important thing easily.
  • Credibility: Credibility is a subjective quality for usability testing. It asks whether your users can trust your product will do as it says just by looking at its interface.
  • Likeability: The final metric of usability testing involves determining whether your users like the interface design.

3. Use Nielsen’s Heuristics For Usability Testing

Other than the five metrics you should evaluate when running usability tests, you should also consider how your users perceive that your product meets Nielsen’s Heuristics. Nielsen’s Heuristics are a series of ten guidelines that can help you determine whether your user interface provides the best experience to your users.

While these guidelines are not the rules for user interface design, they can help you make the best design decisions when making your products. 

4. Recruiting Target Users

Users

The subjects of your usability tests can determine the kind of results you get. Generally, you should get test subjects from the demographic your product wants to target. However, always limit your tests to 5 users per test to get the best possible results without putting a dent in your budget.

5. The Actual Testing Session

During the actual testing session, you should pay attention to the different attributes above when interacting with the test subjects. The best way to do so is by asking open-ended questions and allowing your users to respond to the questions in whichever way they please. This will guarantee their comfort and that the answers they give are the true reflection of what they feel.

Additionally, it would be a great idea to ask your users to focus on tasks when testing the user interface of your product. Rather than outrightly asking them how usable the product was, you could ask them where their first click was, what they first saw when they opened the app or website, and what stood out for them.

Features such as Think Aloud monitoring and Eye Focusing can also help gain better insight.

6. Record Your Usability Tests

Never forget to record your usability tests for future reference. If you want to have the most optimal user interface, you need to constantly refer to the insights you get from your users as you make changes. Recordings will help you achieve this. However, always obtain consent from the research subjects before recording them.

Final Thoughts

You are not your product’s user. Thus, if you want to survive the highly saturated product market, you need to create products whose designs meet the needs and expectations of the users.

The best way to know what the users felt about your products is by inquiring about their perceptions of the product’s usability. Hopefully, the guidelines above have given you the insight you need for your next user interface usability testing.

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