Usability Testing

Usability Testing in Software Engineering

What is Usability Testing?

Several tests are performed on a product before deploying it. You need to collect qualitative and quantitative data and satisfy customers’ needs with the product. A proper final report mentions the changes required in the product (software). Usability Testing in software testing is a type of testing that is done from an end user’s perspective to determine if the system is easily usable. Usability testing is generally the practice of testing how easy a design is for a group of representative users. A widespread mistake in usability testing is conducting a study too late in the design process. If you wait until right before your product is released, you won’t have the time or money to fix any issues – and you’ll have wasted a lot of effort developing your product the wrong way.

Phases of Usability Testing

There are five phases in usability testing, followed by the system when usability testing is performed. These are given below:

Prepare your product or design to test: The first phase of usability testing is choosing a product and then making it ready for usability testing. For usability testing, more functions and operations are required than this phase provided that type of requirement. Hence, this is one of the most critical phases in usability testing.

Find your participants: The second phase of usability testing is finding an employee who is helping you with performing usability testing. Generally, the number of participants you need is based on several case studies. Generally, five participants can find almost as many usability problems as you’d find using many more test participants.

Write a test plan: This is the third phase of usability testing. The plan is one of the first steps in each round of usability testing is to develop a plan for the test. The primary purpose of the plan is to document what you are going to do, how you are going to conduct the test, what metrics you are going to find, the number of participants you are going to test, and what scenarios you will use.

Take on the role of the moderator: This is the fourth phase of usability testing, and here, the moderator plays a vital role that involves building a partnership with the participant. Most of the research findings are derived by observing the participant’s actions and gathering verbal feedback. To be an effective moderator, you need to be able to make instant decisions while simultaneously overseeing various aspects of the research session.

Present your findings/ final report: This phase generally involves combining your results into an overall score and presenting it meaningfully to your audience. An easy method is to compare each data point to a target goal and represent this as one metric based on the percentage of users who achieved this goal.

Techniques/Methods of Usability Testing

There are various types of usability testing that, when performed, lead to efficient software. But only some of them, which are the most widely used, have been discussed here.

Guerilla Testing

It is a type of testing where testers wander to public places and ask random users about the prototype. Also, a thank gift is offered to the users as a token gesture. It is the best way to perform usability testing during the early phases of the product development process. Users generally spare 5-10 minutes and give instant feedback on the product. Also, the cost is comparatively low as you don’t need to hire participants. It is also known as corridor or hallway testing.

Usability Lab

Usability lab testing is conducted in a lab environment where moderators (who ask for feedback on the product) hire participants and ask them to take a survey on the product. This test is performed on a tablet/desktop. The participant count can be 8-10, which is a bit costlier than guerrilla testing as you need to hire participants, arrange a place, and conduct testing.

Screen or Video Recording

Screen or video recording kind of testing is in which a screen is recorded per the user’s action (navigation and usage of the product). This testing describes how the user’s mind runs while using a product. This kind of testing involves the participation of almost ten users for 15 minutes. It helps explain the issues users may face while interacting with the product.

Need for Usability Testing

Usability testing provides some benefits, and the main benefit and purpose of usability testing are to identify usability problems with a design as early as possible so they can be fixed before the design is implemented or mass-produced. As such, usability testing is often conducted on prototypes rather than finished products, with different levels of fidelity depending on the development phase.