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Unlocking product potential: the importance of usability testing

Nick Simpson
Neil Estandarte
June 7, 2023
The hands of people on a desk working on a user experience project by using post it notes.

We want to create products that people love. But, while it is tempting to run ahead and dive into the development process, we know that without usability testing, it's almost impossible to know whether your product will meet the needs of your users.

Which is why we’re diving into what usability testing is, and explaining some of the benefits our clients see when they invest in the process. So, when you’re considering skipping this vital step, hopefully you’ll remember why it’s so crucial to your end product.

What is usability testing?

At its core, usability testing is about validation - the testing of an idea. It is the process of evaluating your product by testing it with actual users.

This testing involves observing and collecting feedback from your users as they interact with your product to identify potential issues and areas for improvement.

Usability testing is vital to custom software development.

Usability testing is critical in the custom software development process as it helps ensure your software meets your users’ needs. It provides valuable insights into user behaviour, preferences, and pain points, allowing us to make informed decisions to improve your software's usability and overall user experience. Without usability testing, it is easy to miss important issues and opportunities for improvement, which can result in a poor user experience.

Essentially, we’re trying to validate an idea and make sure it resonates with the people who we’re designing for. And the benefit of this validation is that we can then pour time and effort into building and creating something that has been proven to solve appropriate needs.

Post it notes on the wall about designing software, one being held saying 'run a usability test'.

Types of usability testing

There are many usability testing methodologies. Some of the ways they are typically categorised include qualitative and quantitative as well as moderated and unmoderated.

The right methodology depends on your project, but we generally recommend a combination of tests that make sense for your goal.

There are several types of usability testing, including:

1. Observation: evaluating how easy and intuitive it is for your users to complete specific tasks with the solution..
2. A/B testing: presenting two versions to your users to determine which performs better.
3. Focus groups: gathering a group of your users to discuss their experiences and opinions.
4. Surveys and questionnaires: gathering feedback from larger groups of users through online surveys and questionnaires that evaluate the solution’s usability, functionality, and user experience.
5. Prototype testing: testing a working model of your software to identify usability issues and make improvements before the final product is released.
6. One-on-one user interviews: following a structured interview process to delve into user context, establishing a deep understanding of their environment and responses / reactions to designs or questions that we present to them

Each usability testing method serves a specific purpose and provides valuable insights. The right type of testing depends on the goals and objectives, as well as the stage of the development cycle. We like to combine methodologies where possible based on your goals to ensure that we’re getting an adequate cross-section of feedback, and enough data to inform our responses or ongoing design / development work.

Benefits of usability testing

If we haven’t convinced you already, let’s reiterate - usability testing is an essential step in the software development process.

While clients can be reluctant to put budget toward this step, it almost always pays dividends.

Wasted time, poor product uptake, code-debt, and a plethora of avoidable issues can be mitigated by taking the time to invest in the right product from the beginning. But, beyond avoiding problems, it also reaps great benefits for clients who invest wisely - allowing them to craft an experience that resonates with their audience and has a greater chance of uptake, adoption, and retention.

Improved usability and user experience

Usability testing enables us to identify usability issues and user experience problems before we get to development. This helps us refine the product design and make it more intuitive, user-friendly, and enjoyable to use. By putting time into this upfront, you can increase user satisfaction and engagement, which ultimately leads to increased usage.

Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty

By involving your customers in the testing process, you are demonstrating that you value their opinions and feedback, building trust and loyalty. Furthermore, by addressing issues and implementing suggestions, you enhance customer satisfaction, reduce churn, and increase retention rates.

Reduced development time and costs

Usability testing can help identify design flaws and usability issues early in the development cycle, which saves time and resources that would otherwise be spent fixing these issues later in the process. Additionally, by identifying and addressing usability issues early on, you reduce the likelihood of costly redesigns, rewrites, or feature changes.

Enhanced product quality and reliability

Usability testing can help identify bugs, glitches, and other issues that may affect the overall quality and reliability of the product. By addressing these issues before the product is released, you are improving its quality and reliability.

Software development should be informed by usability testing

Being experts in custom software development means we are also experts in usability testing. That’s because, as you now know, you can’t be good at one without being great at the other.

If you’re looking to make better product decisions, reduce development time and costs, and increase customer satisfaction, then it’s time for us to chat. Our experienced team is ready to help you build a better product and achieve your product goals. ook a consult via our contact page.

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