With user experience, you could be the top expert in this field. But saying that, you’ll really know exactly how real users will interact with your site until you see them in action. A lot of it is down to assumptions based on the data that you might have from previous customer behavior.
When it comes to usability testing, it can be a handy way of understanding what works as it should and what encounters errors along the way that need fixing. If you’re looking to improve your user’s experience through your platform, then here are some tips on how to choose the right type of usability testing for your business.
Why is it important to run usability testing?
Usability testing can vary depending on the company and what it is that you’re testing. However, there are common goals that are usually sought when it comes to user testing for a business. These are identifying the problems in usability for those engaging, that might not initially be apparent. It’s finding those problems and then seeking potential improvements that can be made to make the user’s experience more rewarding.
There’s also the need for a better understanding of your user’s behavior and preferences so that you can provide an overall user experience on your website that’s more engaging and just ultimately better in general.
The rewards and benefits from using usability testing
There can be many benefits to utilizing usability testing before launching certain features on your site. So before diving into the methods and finding what’s the most suitable for your business, let’s look at some of the advantages and rewards that can come from testing.
Provides qualitative data
Data is always going to be important for a business and it can be helpful to have this data available when it comes to your website and relevant platforms. It can improve the expectations of the user so that hopefully you can benefit from whatever they’re doing on your site. The insights can often be invaluable for helping shape and validate what you’re creating for the user.
From seeing how users will perform the relevant tasks on the website as well as any differences in behavior can certainly help you tailor each and every customer’s experience. Whether it’s the first time on your site or they’ve been on it many times before, this information can still prove very useful.
Closer client/customer relationships
By learning more about your customer or client, it’s going to likely improve any relationships you’re trying to build on both an individual basis but as a whole. When you’ve managed to create a community within your customer base, that in itself can be a huge step forward in your company’s progression.
By testing your features prior to launching, it shows the customer that you’re doing everything possible to make their view of the business, a positive one.
Helps figure out what to prioritize with your website
There’s often a lot of work that needs doing when it comes to your website. So in order to ensure certain projects or tasks are completed first, usability testing can provide that critical knowledge and awareness for what needs prioritizing.
As your business grows, so does the list of things that need doing. Usability testing is definitely a useful method to strengthen your website and other platforms.
Types of usability testing
There are three main types of usability testing that are worth knowing, with each one having its own strengths. You may find that you try one but it doesn’t work as well as another does. It all depends on the type of company you have and how you operate from day to day.
In-person moderated testing
In-person moderated testing is where you’ll meet the typical users that would come onto your site in person. This can provide real value if you’ve tried other usability testing methods before and you’ve struggled to see results or benefits.
We know that as much as interactions done over the phone, via email and video conference, in-person meetings provide a lot more value. As a business, when you conduct this testing, you’ll be able to do all of this live and within a test environment.
This environment is sometimes known as a ‘lab’, mainly because the purpose of usability testing is to test and experiment. It’s somewhere that’s like going to be a setup that makes your users feel most at ease and perhaps in a space that’s very similar to how they would browse in the comfort of their own home.
With in-person moderated testing, there’s a lot more that you may clock or pick up from your users that wouldn’t be possible in any other scenario. An experienced facilitator would take the participants through the task and the end result will be videos of the users doing the tasks whilst talking about the experience with a moderator.
It’s definitely a more detailed approach and it might be one that’s mostly beneficial for businesses who have struggled on multiple occasions to provide a good UX. It’s an organic approach where the results are likely going to be more natural and therefore more telling of what has worked well and what hasn’t.
Pros & cons of in-person moderated testing:
- Good for providing rich data.
- Allows for two-way and verbal discussions.
- Costs to run this testing are likely the most expensive of the three.
- Cannot be run remotely.
Remote unmoderated testing
This type of usability testing will require the users to complete tasks on the website but from their own home. The tasks are provided during this remote testing but there’s no moderator present to ask questions.
The results of these tests are like the in-person testing in that they’re videos of the user completing the task but voicing their thinking process out loud. This might be a method of testing that proves more advantageous when time is against you and you’re after quick turnarounds of findings.
There’s a lot of testing companies online that can provide this service with a huge database of various users to fit the demographic you’re after. When it comes to finding participants, remote unmoderated testing will likely cover a more diverse range of users as opposed to in-person testing.
This might be a more financially beneficial option for small businesses and start-ups that perhaps don’t have enough to move forward with the other, more costly options.
Pros & cons of remote unmoderated testing:
- Cost-effective and quick turnarounds.
- Runs remotely for those unable to do in-person testing.
- No verbal or two-way communications available.
- The level of detail in your findings will be fairly low in comparison to the other methods.
Remote moderated testing
Remote moderated testing can be seen as a mixture of the two above. Whilst it isn’t in person, there is a moderator present for two-way discussions. However, it also is a remote form of testing, which can be handy for those who don’t have the resources or use for in-person testing.
No matter where your users are in the world, this type of testing can be done wherever they are. For some businesses, this is the best method for them in the case of having customers on an international level. It also allows them to gather more detailed findings than unmoderated, remote testing.
Again, the tasks are given to the participants via the moderator who will then discuss with the users on their thoughts of the tasks. A richer source of insight and data is something that most businesses would like, so this might perhaps be one of the most popular usability testing methods.
Pros & cons of remote moderated testing:
- It’s a middle ground option for most businesses.
- Provides more interaction than remote unmoderated testing.
- A rich source of insight and data is generated.
- The turnaround for results is slow, especially when it involves global users.
Which usability testing is right for my business?
It’s worth thinking about the pros and cons when it comes to each form of usability testing. By seeing which one identifies with your company’s needs the most is likely going to be the best choice. However, if you align with more than one, then it’s always good to test and trial out those methods individually to see which one comes out on top.
For businesses that might need more global insight, then remote tested both unmoderated and moderated is likely more useful. If you’re looking to get as much rich data and insight as possible, then there’s nothing better than having those in-person sessions.
By seeing your users in person, there’s a lot more that you can discover and that is unlikely to be seen through remote testing, especially when it’s unmoderated. Usability testing is a must-have when it comes to your company and improving your customer’s experience. The better the experience they have, the more likely they’ll engage with what you provide.
Make usability testing part of your company’s methods when it comes to enhancing user experience online.