What is usability testing?
Usability testing reveals the problems real users experience with your product or web site under the actual conditions of use. We ask participants to carry out realistic tasks and note where they experience problems.
“Userfocus' report was packed with action-oriented recommendations, with specific ideas on how to improve the usability of our site.”
– Jason Lansell, Thomas Cook UK.
Why do usability testing?
Usability testing provides you with an objective analysis of how your product or web site is used in real life. The chances are you'll be astonished at how this differs from the way you think your product is actually used. The data from usability tests provide critical business intelligence about the way customers behave and about how you stack up against the competition.
Case study: Usability testing of an e-commerce web site
This High St retailer's web site is one of the UK's highest revenue e-commerce stores and small improvements in usability can have a large impact on sales. Following a major redesign of their web site, the retailer wanted to identify and fix the usability issues encountered by customers when searching, selecting and purchasing products. Read usability testing case study.
When should I do usability testing?
You can do usability testing anytime, but the earlier you carry out testing the greater the business benefits. We have carried out usability testing of early prototypes (some no more than paper sketches) through to released products. So long as people can use it (even if we have to fake some of the interactions), we can usability test it.
Our approach to usability testing
Because people aren't very good at introspecting into their own behaviour, our usability testing methodology focuses on what people do (rather than what people say). Our technique:
- Doesn’t depend on people's ability to introspect.
- Doesn’t depend on people's memory.
- Reduces 'self-editing' in people’s accounts of use.
- Avoids over-compliance and group effects in research sessions.
Our usability testing equipment comprises:
- Pixel-perfect screen recordings of usability tests (see a screenshot).
- Detailed user paths and click-throughs.
- Picture-in-picture recording of participants carrying out the usability test.
- Mouse pointer and mouse clicks highlighted in the usability testing video to aid analysis.
- Purely digital system: no loss of detail caused by analogue conversion.
Our test facilities
We can provide usability testing labs throughout the UK (London, Birmingham, Coventry and Manchester) and in Europe. All these usability testing labs have viewing facilities so that you and your team can see and discuss the results of the usability test as it happens. We also have a portable usability testing lab, enabling us to usability test in people's homes or places of work.
What do I get?
You'll get digital videos of every test session along with a usability test report with practical design suggestions to show you how to fix problems from the usability test. We optimise the format of our usability test report for the people who will be fixing problems, using written reports, presentations to key stakeholders, videos of usability test participants as well as usability test web reports for your intranet.
Our consultants have a track record of success on similar projects, having worked with clients such as Whirlpool, Kodak and eBay to help them collect usability data for a range of consumer products and web sites. We have learnt that usability tests need to be carried out consistently so that the data can be reliably compared with other products and at different points in time. This consistency includes dealing with participants in the same way, knowing when to terminate a task because a participant is confused, knowing how to measure the "start" and "stop" times of a task and using consistent judgement in defining task "success" and "failure". We are able to carry over this learning to your project, which means that you will benefit from our experience.