Usability tests are a form of qualitative research conducted to gather feedback concerning the design and functionality of various products and websites. Historically, usability tests have been used to evaluate software, Web sites, ATM machines, printers and telephone menu systems. Usability testing allows for evaluation of the ease of use, intuitiveness of the design and user enjoyment
Usability tests are conducted with participants on an individual basis. Typically 12 participants are enough to provide the necessary feedback. A trained moderator oversees the testing. The length of the actual usability test can fluctuate depending on the interface tested and the client’s needs.
Advantages of usability testing
- It is cost effective and quick to complete
- Can get user input early in the design process so that work is more focused
- Can get results with small number of respondents
- Engineers and designers can see where test subjects have problems, which allows for quick changes
- Helps to prioritize improvements/changes to be made
- Provides support for decision making, especially unpopular decisions
As a caution, it is important to note that usability testing results from one project should not be projected to other projects. Thus each project should have its own testing conducted, because different products or websites have different audiences and purposes.