USABILITY TESTING

USABILITY TESTING measures how easy to use and user-friendly a software system is. Here, a small set of target end-users, "use" the software sysem to expose usability defects. This testing mainly focuses on the user's ease to use the application, flexibility in handling controls and the ability of the system to meet its objectives. It is also called User Experience(UX) Testing.

This testing is recommended during the initial design phase of SDLC, which gives more visibility on the expectations of the users.

Example Usability Testing Test Cases

The goal of this testing is to satisfy users and it mainly concentrates on the following parameters of a system:

The effectiveness of the system

• Is the system is easy to learn?

• Is the system useful and adds value to the target audience?

• Are Content, Color, Icons, Images used are aesthetically pleasing?

Efficiency

• Little navigation should be required to reach the desired screen or webpage, and scrollbars should be used infrequently.

• Uniformity in the format of screen/pages in your application/website.

• Option to search within your software application or website.

Accuracy

• No outdated or incorrect data like contact information/address should be present.

• No broken links should be present.

User Friendliness

• Controls used should be self-explanatory and must not require training to operate

• Help should be provided for the users to understand the application/website

• Alignment with the above goals helps in effective usability testing

How to do Usability Testing: Complete Process

Usability testing process consists of the following phases

Planning:-  During this phase the goals of usability test are determined. Having volunteers sit in front of your application and recording their actions is not a goal. You need to determine critical functionalities and objectives of the system. You need to assign tasks to your testers, which exercise these critical functionalities. During this phase, the usability testing method, number & demographics of usability testers, test report formats are also determined

Recruiting: During this phase, you recruit the desired number of testers as per your usability test plan. Finding testers who match your demographic (age, sex etc.) and professional ( education, job etc.) profile can take time.

Usability Testing: During this phase, usability tests are actually executed.

Data Analysis: Data from usability tests is thoroughly analyzed to derive meaningful inferences and give actionable recommendations to improve the overall usability of your product.

Reporting: Findings of the usability test is shared with all concerned stakeholders which can include designer, developer, client, and CEO

Methods of Usability Testing: 2 Techniques

There are two methods available to do usability testing -

1.Laboratory Usability Testing

2.Remote Usability Testing

Laboratory Usability Testing: This testing is conducted in a separate lab room in presence of the observers. The testers are assigned tasks to execute. The role of the observer is to monitor the behavior of the testers and report the outcome of testing. The observer remains silent during the course of testing.  In this testing, both observers and testers are present in a same physical location.

Remote Usability Testing: Under this testing observers and testers are remotely located. Testers access the System Under Test, remotely and perform assigned tasks. Tester's voice , screen activity , testers facial expressions are recorded by an automated software. Observers analyze this data and report findings of the test.

Usability Testing Advantages

As with anything in life, usability testing has its merits and de-merits. Let's look at them

• It helps uncover usability issues before the product is marketed.

• It helps improve end-user satisfaction

• It makes your system highly effective and efficient

• It helps gather true feedback from your target audience who actually use your system during a usability test. You do not need to rely on "opinions" from random people.

Usability Testing Disadvantages

• Cost is a major consideration in usability testing. It takes lots of resources to set up a Usability Test Lab. Recruiting and management of usability testers can also be expensive

However, these costs pay themselves up in form of higher customer satisfaction, retention and repeat business. Usability testing is therefore highly recommended.