Tips for improving user experiences through better usability testing
Usability testing is critical to ensure your product delivers an efficient, effective, and enjoyable experience for your users. Through remote user testing websites like Trymata, you can build a test in minutes and have it tested by a remote user soon after. With Trymata testing, you can receive a video of the tester’s screen, voice, quantitative and qualitative data, survey results, impressions, and other key insights.
Anyone can write a simple usability test, but it may not provide the insight you need to meet your goals. We at Trymata have reviewed thousands of tests to find what makes a successful usability test.
Here are 7 usability testing tips to gain key insights on the user feeling of your product designs.
1. Have clear user testing goals
2. Test your designs across device types
3. Set expectations for users
4. Make each task specific
5. Make sure users verbalize their thoughts
6. Analyze your test data systematically
7. Share findings with your team
End-to-end usability testing tips
Tip #1: Have clear goals
What are you trying to achieve from conducting this usability test? Keeping clear goals in mind and planning your tasks around those goals will give your test more structure in staying on track and yield the best possible results.
Are you looking to test a new navigation feature through your product? Do you want your users to notice and interact with a specific page of your website? Or perhaps are you deliberately trying to make something difficult to find, like unsubscribing from your services. Whatever it is you're trying to achieve:
- Write out your research goals to guide your usability test.
- Be decisive on what you plan to use the findings of the usability test for.
- Create pre-planned tasks focusing on these goals.
Read more: Creating user testing goals
Tip #2: Test your designs on every relevant device type
Make sure your product and designs are compatible with the intended device the user is supposed to use. Trymata delivers services for user testing websites and user testing for apps. While the usability test is meant to address any issues including device compatibility, ensuring your app or website works properly across devices ahead of time allows you to instead focus on gaining insightful feedback on your intended goals.
If your design is only meant for mobile users, make sure that is conveyed and the usability tester is prepared to only use their mobile device.
Tip #3: Set expectations for the users early on
Being in the usability test setting can be stress-inducing to some users. Trying to alleviate as much of the tension as possible will make the process feel more natural, replicating a more real-life version of your product’s usability. It is always important that the user experience feels as comfortable as possible.
Setting expectations at the beginning of the test can help to put your users at ease, and also increase the quality of feedback you receive by clarifying what you are looking for.
When conducting a usability test there are 3 important messages to convey to the tester early on:
- We are not testing you; we are testing the design.
- If there is something confusing about the design and you do not understand it, it is not your fault at all, but ours.
- Upon entering the product, please verbally comment on everything you see.
Tip #4: Make each task specific
The key to a great usability test is to give specific tasks and let the user figure it out. Tasks should not be too vague, but they also should not lead users straight to the answer. From their starting point, simply ask them to end up at the result and watch how they choose to get there.
Read more: Writing usability testing tasks
For example, imagine you own an online clothing store and just released a new collection of cargo pants. Your goal in this test is to investigate how users may choose to find cargo pants. The assigned task should be something like “Find a pair of cargo pants” – then, it’s up to the user to figure out how they can get there.
- The tester may choose to click on an announcement on the website’s main page about the new collection
- They may just search for cargo pants in the navigation tool on your website or app
- They may click on Women > Shop by Product > Pants > Cargo Pants
- They may not be able to reach the cargo pants at all
Whatever the outcome, through specific tasks you will be able to analyze the user experience on your page and get insights on how you may want to modify your designs.
Tip #5: Ask users to verbalize their thoughts as they proceed
The verbal responses that users give in the moment, while using your digital products, are one of the most valuable aspects of usability testing.
Even if the users make the “correct” selections, it is incredibly useful to know what motivated them to make those decisions. These insights can also influence your future design decisions for improved user experience.
Additionally, asking generalized open-ended questions at the end of the test can be more helpful than expected. These can be questions like, “How did this product compare to similar websites or apps you have interacted with?” or “What do you wish we would have included in our design?”
Read more: Post-test survey question templates
Tip #6: Analyze your data effectively and efficiently
Once you’ve collected all the data from your usability test, it can be a bit of a challenge to understand and analyze it all. As you observe the UX issues that occur during your user testing sessions, pay attention to factors such as urgency, frequency, and impact. This will allow you to more easily prioritize problems at the end of the testing process.
Organize the issues that occurred during testing by documenting them all in one place, along with all the details about each issue. You can use a variety of different tools to accomplish this, from post-it notes or Google sheets to purpose-built options like video annotations, highlight reels, or research repository platforms.
Some factors to pay attention to while analyzing the UX problems you find from testing include:
Task criticality: Determine how important the task affected by the issue is. An issue with the main menu may be ranked higher than a cosmetic issue.
Impact: This is the level of interference the issue presents on the user experience. The inability to visually notice the company name on the website may be ranked as a higher issue than the user taking more than a few seconds to find a button.
Frequency: Count how often the issue occurred among all of your usability testers. For example, if 5 testers were used and 2 of them experienced the same issue, the frequency score for that issue would be 40%.
Read more: Choosing the right usability testing sample size
An overall priority level can then be assigned by considering these factors, as well as any others that are important to your team.
There are different formulas for combining these factors; one way is to simply multiply the task criticality, impact, and frequency. If an issue presented a criticality of 5, impact of 2, and occurred in 2 of 3 participants, the severity would be 6.7.
However, you may decide to weight one of the factors more heavily; ultimately, it's up to you and your product decision-makers to decide the best formula for your team.
Tip #7: Discuss the findings with your team
The goal of a usability test, of course, is to build the best product for your users. If your team is unaware of the problem spots in the designs, progress is unachievable. You can benefit greatly from sharing the results, as your team can contribute insightful ideas and solutions on how to improve the product and address the issues.
It can often be helpful to involve other team members in the user testing process, or at least in the process of analysis. This might mean sharing key video clips with them, or whole video sessions. Collaborative features on usability testing platforms like Trymata can enable a variety of team members to engage with your research at a level that's appropriate for them.
If you're reading this, then you're hopefully already convinced of the value of user testing. If the rest of your team isn't well-educated on why UX research matters, we encourage you to head over to our customer stories page to find success stories, testimonials, and case studies from Trymata customers who have seen major improvements to their business goals through usability testing.