Websites are an integral part of one’s business strategy. They give your business an online presence, allowing you to integrate various low-cost marketing strategies in your business development. With a website, you allow for the sales of your products or services around the clock. Being visible worldwide also means that you gain more customers.
However, if a website is difficult to navigate or doesn’t clearly articulate a purpose, users will leave. To prevent this, usability testing comes into play.
Usability testing refers to tests conducted to understand users’ experience with the website and the issues they face. In many instances, time and budget constraints either marginalize testing or eliminate it completely. And more often than not, it’s because usability testing is misunderstood or undervalued.
In this article, we will debunk three commonplace myths about usability testing. After reading this, you’ll see how usability testing can be conducted and you’ll be equipped on some of the best practices you can apply in usability testing.
1 “It’s too expensive.”
Many organizations still believe usability testing is a luxury that requires an expensively equipped lab, usability testing professionals and takes weeks to conduct.
The truth is, there is a broad range of options for testing that are cheaper than testing in a lab by hiring professionals. Usability testing sessions can be moderated where an interviewer works with the participant, or unmoderated where the participant completes the tasks alone. User tests can be run in a spare conference room instead of a lab.
For a moderated session, you don’t need to be a professional usability professional to get insights from performing your own usability tests. In fact, you can be the moderator. As you
practice, your moderating skills will develop with experience and training. Many sites offer valuable tips on moderating usability testing.
Even with a budget of $200, you can do usability testing. The methods are incredibly flexible and scale up or down according to circumstance. Other affordable testing methods include:
- On-site surveys
- Card sorting
- Heat maps
- One-click feedback
2 “The more participants you have, the more you’ll learn”
Despite popular misconceptions about how cumbersome this process is, you really only need 5 test users per testing group to make sure your product offers a smooth experience.
Usability testing is a qualitative approach that is driven by insights (what usability issues they face and why) over numbers. So, it’s typical that sample sizes are low.
The web usability expert, Jakob Nielson, showed that “the maximum benefit-cost ratio is achieved when using between three and five subjects.”
According to Jeff Sauro of MeasuringU, the probability of a user encountering an error during testing is 31%. So, testing just 5 users would turn up 85% of the problems in an interface. This conclusion is brought to you by binomial probability of a Poisson Distribution—which can show us the chances of achieving n successes in N trials. A Poisson Distribution with a 31% binomial probability shows that once you add more than 5 users to a test group, returns diminish drastically.
So, the more users you add to a test group, the less you’ll learn. As a baseline, 5 is the golden rule. Limit testing to 5 users and you’ll uncover the majority of problems that plague your website, while still keeping your costs low and the process simple.
3 “Testing should be done just before the launch”
Testing before launch will either reveal that you’ve designed an effective user interface or identify problems that users will face and complaints that you’ll get. If you wait to test until just before launch, it’s too late to fix anything but the most minor problems.
Test early and test often is the UX designer’s mantra. Testing small portions of a site or items of functionality (such as the navigation bar and concept layouts) can be more effective than testing an entire product at once. This is because issues can be pinpointed to specific components in the product and can be addressed while the website is still developing.
User testing throughout the development process helps you learn how your users think and what motivates them. It will also guide you on what to do next, so that your website will be user-friendly when it is launched.
Usability testing is often undervalued because of the misconceptions that it is costly and time-consuming.
However, this isn’t the case. Through the flexible methodology offered in usability testing, the golden rule of 5 users, and testing early in the development process, usability testing need not strain your budget. It may delay the launch of your website, but it will ultimately save you time from resolving users’ issues and optimize your website to its fullest potential.
To conduct a usability testing session, you can go to usabilitytesting.sg to request for a project quotation today.