User Testing takes off – See how it can work for you

Saturday 1 October 2011 - Filed under Usability News

Many people experimenting with Usability Testing have seen it as a necessary evil. Over the past several years those brave enough to experiment with it have experienced a process that is either too costly or too disruptive. At present most User Testing clients come from large blue chip organizations with the usability budgets that allow for different methodologies to be used. These form part of multi layer approach whereby different Usability methods are used to form the best ‘usability picture’ or outlook for that company. On the other hand there is a minority of smaller companies or organizations that have been brave enough to take the leap of faith towards Usability Testing.

There  are many User Testing blogs, forums and articles on the internet which will talk about how small businesses  are lagging behind, unable to catch up with the larger corporations who have already embraced Usability Testing years ago.

There is some truth in this in the same way five or six years ago it was almost impossible to obtain the web design and management capabilities we take for granted today. Anyone can now choose from a huge range of basic and comprehensive web solution packages, spending as much or as little as you like.

The same is true with User Testing but this is not the complete picture, as there is a lack or awareness combined with the few Testing User products available to small business that just are not suitable for quantifiable results.

Usability Testing done well can allow business of any size to gain a massive insight and potentially a competitive advantage.

Many large corporations incorporate it throughout their product development life cycle, although despite this the effort approach is limited and not clearly understood.

This is a problem for the Usability Testing industry though; they have to create the products that are cost effective and adequate for small and large business alike.

So far though User Testing providers have had a serious lack of imagination as to bringing the Usability model up to date.

Ultimately the goal is to answer the most fundamental Usability question.

Why do Users leave your website?

It’s not market research though, that’s when you just obtain ideas and opinions on a product. User Testing has more scope. Traditionally this would involve highly controlled lab conditions, where Users are closely observed and their actions recorded. Now though when someone says User Testing they are probably referring to expert reviews, reports or usability surveys. These methods allows for comprehensive data analysis as in recent years numerous research papers have suggested that the quality of data obtained from these remote methodologies has little or nothing to envy from the traditional lab usability tests.

The subjective nature of User Testing is clear. It’s just one user opinion. This fact is key to where Usability Testing demands lie. The focus needs to be on snapshots of the internet population, whereby clients can have a complete solution starting with the crowd sourcing all the way through to the extraction and presentation of the findings.

The problem isn’t so much with the lack of desire shown by by small business towards User Testing. The desires definitely there, but unless you run a business which has a large demographic User Testing panel waiting around and a in house Usability Expert you want a one stop complete solution.

You’re not concerned with the kudos of lab tests, you just want to connect with your users and get value from any Usability investment you make.

2011-10-01  »  admin

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