By running tests, designers can identify problems in the early stages of projects before they are coded, compare their existing site to competitors, and evaluate a site before redesign. As well as providing concrete evidence of what people are doing on websites, usability testing gives compelling insight into why. If UX professionals aren’t asking the right questions, they won’t get the answers they need.
According to Usability.gov, a leading resource for UX best practices, usability testing refers to “evaluating a product or service by testing it with representative users.” UX professionals use usability testing to identify problems, collect data, and determine overall user satisfaction.
In any successful user experience study, UX professionals need to write questions that will provide insight to improve their website or move a project forward. UX professionals should put a lot of thought into these questions so that they can trust the results and use them to guide future decision-making.
UX professionals should incorporate qualitative testing. “Studies that are qualitative in nature generate data about behaviors or attitudes based on observing them directly, whereas in quantitative studies, the data about the behavior or attitudes in question are gathered indirectly, through a measurement or an instrument such as a survey or an analytics tool,” according to the Nielsen Norman Group.
Qualitative testing can enable designers to focus on the issues that have the biggest impact on users. It helps teams answer questions related to “why or how to fix a problem,” the Nielsen Norman Group explains.
Five to seven participants are typically needed to uncover the majority of problems. In fact, Nielsen Norman found five participants can uncover 85 percent of usability issues. Usability.gov notes that it is important to choose participants who align with typical users of your site. Depending on your site’s specifications, your audience might be broad or relatively narrow. If you have multiple potential user groups, include participants that represent each so that you get useful feedback. You shouldn’t use internal staff as participants because this can skew results.
Stakeholders should also be invited to observe the testing process. This boosts the credibility of your findings and reports and helps teams build empathy for users. It also gives context, increasing the likelihood that they’ll act on your recommendations based on the test results.