What is Usability? 

In layman’s words, usability is a quality criterion for determining whether a given program is simple and provides users with the best possible experience.

Hundreds of designers and programmers developed the applications we use every day, from clocks to social media to email. Suppose you go back in time a little. In that case, you’ll see that the applications have become much easier to use and operate, owing to the professionals who designed each aspect with the user’s satisfaction in mind.

It is pretty apparent that before an application is released, it is put through a series of tests to ensure it functions properly. Usability is one such test that UI/UX designers are faced with.

So, what is usability, and why is it important to test programs for it?

Usability: A Definition

Before a user is introduced to an application, it must first be tested to see if it is simple to ‘use’ for the user. Usability is the phrase used to describe this characteristic.

What factors go into determining an application’s usability?

Because usability is similar to quality, every application must pass through five quality components to ensure it is up to par and capable of performing properly. They are as follows:

  • Learnability:

The learnability of an application relates to how quickly users can learn, adapt, and accomplish basic activities when using it for the first time.

  • Efficiency: 

Efficiency relates to how quickly users can complete tasks on the program after understanding how to accomplish the core action.

  • Memorability:

Memorability refers to how well users can do the basic action when they return to the application after a lengthy period of time without using it.

  • Errors:

When trying out new features, new users are prone to making mistakes. This attribute tracks how many errors new users are likely to make, how serious those errors are, and how easy they recover.

  • Satisfaction: 

The final and most crucial factor determining an application’s usability level is how users feel while using it. It’s a positive clue that the application will work well if they enjoy exploring it.

The utility is an individual characteristic that examines if the system’s intended functionality is capable of performing well.

The application ensures that the elements mentioned above are met via a usability testing approach.

Usability and Accessibility

Usability relates to how appealing an application’s aesthetics are to users and how well it can deliver its functions and performance. Another crucial feature that every application design must consider is accessibility, which is frequently misunderstood with usability.

The term “accessibility” refers to the quality of an application that makes it easier to use for individuals with disabilities. Usability is a broad phrase that refers to how simply and smoothly an application’s functionality and display may be used by users. In contrast, accessibility refers to whether or not impaired persons can use the website and application without difficulty.

For example, audio tools can assist blind persons in navigating applications, and some application elements can assist the elderly in swiftly and conveniently contacting aid when needed.

Because accessibility is such an important feature, practically every smartphone and application on the market has accessibility features. The features are beneficial to impaired persons and many of us, and we use them on a daily basis.

For example, in a crowded environment, we can use the captions function that comes with videos to watch and understand the content of a film without bothering others. There’s also the automated dark and light mode, which automatically adjusts the brightness based on your phone’s environment. In many ways, accessibility features are far more beneficial, which is why they are also vital traits for an application.

In a nutshell, accessibility is for,

  • People with various disabilities are among the specified users.
  • Specified context of use which includes accessibility considerations such as assistive technologies.

Usability Testing Questions

Usability testing is a type of testing in which users are given new software or applications to use and test. The feedback gathered from the participants determines if the application is ready to be deployed and can be easily used by users.

There are a variety of reasons why usability tests are conducted; however, the following are the most common:

  • To put a prototype to the test.
  • To detect issues with complex flows.
  • Obtaining unbiased user feedback.
  • To obtain information that will aid in the creation of a better overall user experience.

When completing the testing process, the developers and designers will require a set of feedback to determine which, why, and how each aspect of the application should be evaluated.

As a result, you’ll most likely need to create a list of questions to ask the participants.

Each case necessitates slightly different feedback from your user testers; in fact, the bigger questions you want to address and the individual questions you ask can be quite different.

Here are some sets of questions that you can include in your usability testing:

Pre-testing Questions

Pre-testing questions are used to get some background information about the users participating in usability testing. For pre-testing, we look at the following:

  1. User Demographics
  2. Common Questions
  3. Prior Knowledge Questions

User Demographics

To discover more about the target country or location where you will be using the app, you must first study the users’ demographics. The information gathered during this phase will allow you to tailor the applications’ features to the demography.

Test questions:

  • Could you tell me a little bit about yourself?
  • What do you do for a living now?
  • What is your household composition?

Common Questions

During this phase, you’ll ask the typical questions about the user’s experience with your app and what they think of it.

Test questions:

  • How frequently do you [describe the tasks associated with your product]?
  • When was the last time you did something like this?
  • What tools, if any, do you use to assist you with this task?
  • Please share your thoughts on this tool.

Prior Knowledge Questions

Finally, assessing users’ awareness of the problem your solution solves is beneficial. Prior knowledge can help you get the most out of your product. This is an example of a question:

Test questions:

  • Which of the following best describes your understanding of [the problem your product solves]?

Testing Questions

This is the most important aspect of the testing. Users will interact with your product and provide feedback that explains their experience with it at this phase.

This phase will provide you with information on the following:

  • Determine why users utilize or don’t use the product.
  • Determine how you can improve the product’s usability.
  • Examine how you might improve your product’s overall pleasure.

We look at the following testing questions:

  1. Observing User Behaviors
  2. User Motivations for Behaviors

Observing User Behaviors

The questions in this phase will be what the user thinks about a certain feature.

Test questions:

  • What are your thoughts as you look at [a particular page or feature]?
  • Where would you look for [information] if you were looking for it?
  • What was your impression of the product’s performance in completing this task?
  • How do you feel about the terminology used?
  • How easy or difficult was it to find your way around?
  • How do you feel about the design and layout?
  • How long did the user take to do this task?

User Motivations for Behaviors

The ‘Why?’ aspect of the user’s action is examined in this phase. Developers can learn about potential problems resulting in a different consumer reaction at this phase.

Test questions:

  • Why did you go to [Page A] rather than [Page B]?
  • What prompted you to engage in [a particular interaction]?

Post-Testing Questions

Following the performance-related question, the final phase will entail questioning the users’ overall comments. What do people like and dislike about the app, for example?

We look at the following post-testing questions:

  1. End-to-End User Experience
  2. Overall User Impression

End-to-End User Experience

An examination of the end-to-end user experience might reveal any modifications that need to be made to your product’s workflow, such as a feature within an application that feels detached from another.

Test questions:

  • What would you say was your overall impression of the product?
  • What was your favourite aspect of utilizing this product?
  • What did you find the least appealing?
  • What about the experience shocked you, if anything?
  • What, if anything, has irritated you?

Overall User Impression

Post-testing questions should also reveal the user’s overall impressions of the product. The following are some examples of questions:

Test questions:

  • How likely are you to suggest this product to a friend on a scale of 1 to 10?
  • How often do you think you’ll use this product?

Usability Testing Methods

There are several aspects to consider when it comes to usability testing, such as the target audience, the location, and the testing methodologies.

The following are some of the usability testing methodologies that are used to determine an application’s usability:

  • Moderated and unmoderated usability testing
  • Lab usability testing
  • Guerrilla testing
  • Session recordings
  • Online testing tools 
  • Card sorting
  • Eye-tracking
  • Explorative, Assessment, and Comparative testing 

Moderated and Unmoderated Usability Testing

A qualified researcher monitors and advises the participants throughout a moderated testing session, which can be conducted remotely or in person.

Unmoderated testing sessions are in contrast to moderated testing sessions, in which the test is typically administered remotely or in labs with no direct supervision.

Lab Usability Testing

As the name implies, lab usability testing occurs in a lab setting where users are given devices and directed to take action. Behind a one-way mirror in the testing area, stakeholders usually observe the activities and take notes.

Guerrilla Testing

Guerrilla testing involves selecting test volunteers randomly from a public location, such as a coffee shop, mall, or airport. They are requested to conduct a simple usability test in exchange for a gift card or other incentive.

The goal of guerilla testing is to put the app through its paces with users who have never heard of it before. It’s a rapid approach to gathering big volumes of qualitative data that can be used to validate design components or functionality.

Session Recordings

Session recordings are software recordings of real (but anonymous) users performing actions on a website, such as mouse clicks, movement, and scrolling.

Session recordings are a great way to discover serious issues with a site’s intended functioning, examine how users engage with page elements like menus and Calls-to-Action (CTAs), and notice where they stutter, u-turn (go back to a previous page fast after landing on a new one), or exit entirely.

Online Testing Tools 

A range of online testing programs allows you to remotely observe user activity on your website; some allow you to pay participants to take brief tests while others watch real users interact with your site. You may receive audio recordings of people conversing while navigating your website or videos of users completing a set of tasks.

Card Sorting

Card sorting puts thoughts on virtual note cards and allows users to arrange and categorize the cards. After sorting the cards, they explain their reasoning in a debriefing session led by the moderator.

Card sorting is an excellent way to receive input on new and current websites’ layouts and navigational structures. Its findings show designers and product managers how users and potential customers naturally organize information, which can aid in making a website more user-friendly.

Eye-Tracking

Using a particular pupil-tracking gadget attached to a computer, researchers observe and examine users’ eye movements during eye-tracking examinations. The computer may build heat maps or movement pathway diagrams by monitoring where people concentrate their attention when asked to finish a job.

Eye-tracking studies can be used to learn more about how users engage visually with a page; they can also be used to test layout and design aspects and determine what might be distracting or diverting attention away from the important elements of the page.

Explorative, Assessment, and Comparative Testing

These three testing methods generate different types of data:

  • The exploratory tests are unrestricted. Participants are urged to discuss, voice their thoughts, and share their emotional reactions to ideas and concepts. The data is often gathered during the early stages of product development and aids researchers in identifying market gaps, identifying potential new features, and prototyping new concepts.
  • An assessment study is done to determine whether or not a user is satisfied with a product and how well they can use it. It’s used to assess the overall functionality of a product.
  • Comparative research methods entail asking consumers to pick between two options and are used to compare a website to its key competitors.

Methods That Are Not Usability Testing

Individuals are asked to evaluate and experience the functionality of a website during usability testing. Although the approaches described below are not technically usability testing, they can (and should) be used in conjunction with usability testing to generate more detailed results:

A/B testing: A/B testing is different from usability testing in that it involves experimenting with numerous versions of a webpage to see which is the most effective. It’s a crucial tool for boosting conversions.

Acceptance testing: Acceptance testing is the final stage of the software testing process, in which users follow a series of instructions to confirm the product functions properly. Acceptance testing is a technical quality assurance test, not a technique to determine whether a product is user-friendly and efficient; yet, it is crucial in developing a well-vetted product.

Surveys: Surveys are an indicator of user experience; surveys can be used as a follow-up or to get user feedback in conjunction with usability testing.

Conclusion

Usability testing is critical because it helps designers and developers uncover issues and fix them so that the user has a better and more faultless experience. You may test every component of the program you’ve implemented using the previous usability tests. Choose which tests are appropriate for you and test your apps before releasing them.

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