Usability Testing

Usability testing is a technique used in user-centered interaction design to evaluate a product by testing it on users. This can be seen as an irreplaceable usability practice, since it gives direct input on how real users use the system. Usability testing focuses on measuring a human-made product’s capacity to meet its intended purpose. Examples of products that commonly benefit from usability testing are foods, consumer products, web-sites or web applications, computer-interfaces, documents, and devices.

In software, usability means the software’s capability to be learned and understood easily and how attractive it looks to the end user. Usability Testing is a black box testing technique. This tests the following features of the software :

  • how easy it is to use the software
  • how easy it is to learn the software
  • how convenient is the software to the end user

In Usability Testing, a small-set of target end-users, of a  software system,  use it to expose usability defects. This testing mainly focuses on the user’s-ease to use the application, flexibility in handling controls and ability of the system to meet its objectives.

Usability testing determines whether an application is :

  • Useful
  • Findable
  • Accessible
  • Usable
  • Desirable

Goals of usability testing :

1.  Effectiveness of the system

  • Is the system is easy to learn
  • Is the system useful and adds value to the target audience?
  • Is Content, Color, Icons, Images used are aesthetically pleasing ?

2. Efficiency

  • Navigation required to reach desired screen/webpage should be very less. Scroll bars shouldn’t be used frequently.
  • Uniformity in the format of screen/pages in your application/website.
  • Provision to search within your software application or website.

3. Accuracy

  • No outdated or incorrect data like contact information/address should be present.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

 4. 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 above goals helps in effective usability testing.

Methods of 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 behavior of the testers and report outcome of  testing. The observer remains silent during the course of testing.  In this testing both observers and testers are present in 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.

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