Make your customers happy. Test for usability, early and often!

by Gino Lardon - December 17, 2014

When launching a new website, app or campaign you want to make sure that the people in your target audience can easily understand and use it. Even better, you want them to really love it. This ‘usability’ is one of the important facets of user experience to create the very best services.

But how can you make sure you don’t disappoint or even frustrate your customers? Usability guidelines are interpretable and can even be contradictory. Tiny changes can have a big impact. Even an expert does not know everything and cannot exactly predict a customer’s behavior.

Sometimes the thing you think absolutely won't work does work. You need to be able to accept evidence that goes against your opinion.
Gerry McGovern

That is why you always need to test with real people. Tests can prove your design decisions are correct. Results from user testing outweigh opinions and facts can convince even your toughest client. 

And yet too many people ignore user testing, because they think it’s hard to do, or expensive. That doesn’t have to be true. Via user testing you can validate your ideas, concepts and designs already early in the process. You can identify problems before they are coded. The earlier issues are found, the less expensive the fixes will be. 

People often think user testing requires a testing lab, dozens of test subjects, and weeks of work from a team of expert researchers. This is also a mistake. In reality, a handful of users will be able to identify the majority of problems and recruitment of users and testing can be done in an informal way. You can even organize user testing remotely to avoid travel time. 

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Moderated user testing with eye-tracking via Tobii technology

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Remote unmoderated user testing via

Running a series of small, focused tests lets you catch problems early, and steer away from the wrong path before you’ve gone too far down it. The longer you wait, the more time and money you’ll have wasted. 

What can you test early and often?

  • Test the current design to identify good and the bad parts.

  • Test competitors' designs to learn about a range of alternatives.

  • Create and test paper prototypes of one or more new design ideas.

  • Refine the design ideas that proved to work best through multiple iterations. Gradually move from low-fidelity to high-fidelity prototyping.

  • Test the prototype on a computer.

  • Once you have launched, test it again. Analytics tells you what happened; usability testing tells you why. Subtle usability problems can always creep in during implementation

User testing is very important within the user-centered design and lean UX toolsets. It is the right way to launch better, faster, and more efficient with the least amount of wasted resources. Moreover, it will definitely make your customers happy.

Gino Lardon

Senior UX Designer