Designing a product that people love is hard. You might think you know what your users want, but you probably don’t. You can spend weeks creating a product you believe to be perfect, only to find out that it’s the wrong solution from the customer’s point of view.
User testing provides you with valuable qualitative data and helps you build better products faster by validating your assumptions before you waste time and money building something nobody wants. It helps you find out what works and what doesn’t, uncovering hidden insights and vastly improving your chances of success.
What is user testing?
User testing is one of the main stages of the development cycle and an essential part of the design process. It can help you understand your customers' needs more effectively, identify usability problems, and finally, improve your product.
It's cost-effective and enables you to make more informed decisions by exploring and analyzing your target audience’s behavior when interacting with your product. You’ll test prototypes of specific flows or features with many users, set tasks for them, then record and analyze the results - which can then direct the iterations you need to make to design a better solution.
If you’re using an online tool for user testing, you’ll have access to users that are locals or live around the world, so you'll be able to get a more accurate and objective view of your target audience.
User testing is your secret weapon
The goal of the user testing is to determine if a product is going to be successful in the market. It can also help you find the best practices in design and architecture and implement these into your product.
It allows you to get a sense of how your users will react to your product while:
- Showing how users understand your product.
- Revealing where the user pain points are and how you can address them.
- Discovering new or more intuitive design solutions.
- Helping you identify and fix problems faster.
- Testing usability in the context of the whole experience.
- Developing smarter UI and UX in general.
- Creating an eye-catching product design.
- Generating more interest and engagement from users.
- Giving your product team valuable insight into user behavior.
Why investing in user testing is worth it
The primary benefit is that it allows you to improve your products iteratively and rapidly. With user testing, you can move forward quickly, test faster, and learn faster, making it a significant part of the user experience design process and coding tests, helping you optimize your MVP strategies.
With understanding your audience, you can create an interface they can use easily and intuitively while eliminating pitfalls along the way. As a result, you’ll be able to create high-quality products that sell well, establish higher brand awareness and have a positive impact on your business. You can:
- Test many customer personas.
- Support innovation.
- Help product managers develop customer-centric products.
- Enhance user happiness and satisfaction.
- Develop more effective products by removing the guesswork from the process.
- Develop better teams by improving collaboration and communication.
- Prioritize tasks quickly and deliver the best possible product.
- Consolidate your research on user needs and behavior into one place.
- Lead to quicker product development and releases.
Simplifying the user testing process
How does it work?
- Create a feature, prototype, or product.
- Choose a testing method.
- Find users to complete the test.
- Define how you'll be testing users.
- Define test duration.
- Send the test.
- Analyze results.
There are several tasks you need to perform before you start with the user testing process. These include deciding on the test topic, scope, and purpose, choosing the stakeholders, deciding on a medium of interaction, and assembling a list of participants.
When choosing your test topics, think about the users’ goals, values, and constraints when interacting with your product.
Set up a focus group consisting of users who are likely to respond similarly to the intended audience that you want to study. Respondents to user testing can be existing customers, users recruited from usability testing tools, business people, consumers, social media users, community members, etc. Depending on your product, you can look for participants who know your industry, belong to a certain demographic, etc.
After that, you will typically send out an email to the user base asking for a set of participants. The subject line should contain the words “Testing” or “Prospective Participant.”
Also, you need to create a user testing consent form that gives your users information about the project, goals, rules and tasks for your session. People are more likely to be comfortable sharing their experiences and giving you feedback if you provide them with a safe environment. Users need to know that you respect their privacy and that you’ll use their feedback and personal information only to improve your product.
Once testing sessions are conducted, you need to maintain thorough documentation on tasks, outputs, comments, and the participants.
How to find out what your users want?
Before embarking on any new user testing endeavor, remember to clearly define the goals you want to accomplish. Only then can you determine the best usability testing method for your needs.
1. Questionnaire Getting a few random participants to write down their thoughts about the value of your product is a good way to test ideas for the website or application. Questionnaires are a great, simple, and fast way to collect the information you need. They provide you with precise results in very little time. What’s more, they’re very affordable. Questionnaire testing works great for those who are looking for basic information or an answer to specific questions. Think of these types of tests as quick yet thorough customer research sessions.
2. Video Testing The most straightforward testing method is to conduct videos in which a subject (or people, in some cases) can use your product in real-time, with no manual testing.
In these videos, you set the date and time, instruct participants to test a predefined app feature, and capture their feedback on video. Once you choose a small test group, you can watch the videos to understand how the subject or participants react to the test.
The alternative is to let your participants create a video with video editing software, and send you the video recording when they finish with your tasks. This will give them more time to think and go through things at their own pace.
3. Card Sorting Card sorting is a great way to ask questions related to your product and receive answers from your participants. Usually, they can think of better ways to improve your product and solve problems presented in the test.
Card sorting tests only the performance of simple actions. Testing these aspects of your product may provide a quick overview of where the app works and where it needs improvement.
4. Interviews If you have multiple users, interviewing them to observe their behavior on site before launching the product can give you the information you need to tweak the product. This is particularly effective for small to mid-size businesses, which can be better at quickly fielding testers with smaller team sizes. Once you have a group of volunteers, offer them a limited amount of functionality. Let them try things out for a few days to see how they respond to the product. If the feedback is consistent with the desired change, then implement that change. If not, revisit the problem area.
5. A/B Split testing All users are different, so testing a single user may yield much useful information about a particular product. But what if you have a few users who are representatives of a wider target audience? That’s where split testing comes in.
Split testing allows you to create groups of users and administer two different user testing methods to each group — with no cross-over — to determine which methods work best. You can then adjust your testing options based on which method produced the highest percentage of conversions.
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Learn from your users
At the end of the usability testing process, you should create a final report that shares your findings with the rest of your team. A usability testing report produces a checklist of the problems encountered during the test and identifies those features that work well.
This report is an essential tool for product design teams when they need to identify areas for improvement, prioritize these issues, and plan future design iterations to improve user experience.
Say goodbye to product failures
User testing helps you communicate your brand value to users and helps you strengthen your idea. It’s important to do it early in the process before you launch your product.
It helps you understand what is most important to users, helps you make better decisions about their experience, and, ultimately, helps you create a better solution for your customers. It’s worth your time and effort to invest in user testing for your product.
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About the Author: Lindsey Allard is the CEO of PlaybookUX, a video-based user feedback software. After seeing how time-consuming and expensive gathering feedback was, Lindsey made it her goal to create a solution to streamline the user feedback process.
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