Every day each of us deals with numerous software and applications in order to perform work tasks, entertain, order and buy some services and goods, conduct fund transfer, and so on. Some of these applications at once become our favorites and indispensable helpers, others we avoid to use or even quit them after the first sight. Why does this happen? Why some apps are doomed to success while others lag behind and seem to be useless, even offering great functions. As a rule, the cause lies in the inconvenience of using.
Sometimes users put off some applications because of their sophisticated design or too bright colors of font or background that start to irritate them at first glance. Many applications are often ignored due to non-intuitive navigation, lack of learnability and customization, and tasks that require too many users’ efforts. Being displeased with their experience, in the best-case scenario, users just never use an inconvenient application again, and in the worst-case scenario, they submit numerous bad reviews.
Oleh Sadykow (Co-Founder at DeviQA – leading software testing company) told this story about the failure of the use of the application:
Once a friend of mine, who is a travel agent, had booked and issued airplane tickets for regular customers in a new booking system, later passengers applied to her asking whether they would be able to call off their trip in case of necessity. My friend checked the refund amount and pressed the “Cancel” button, being absolutely sure that in such a way she would interrupt the refund procedure, but tickets were refunded. It was awful as new tickets for the same flights were available just in the business class, and she had to buy them for her own money. There is no need to say that after that painful experience, she left furious feedback and never used that application again. In this story, both sides were harmed: my friend lost money while the booking system lost its customer and reputation. All these troubles could have been avoided if usability testing had been conducted. Usability testing would have defined users’ way of thinking, and maybe developers would have provided a pop-up window with a request to confirm refund or renamed the button. As you can see, this type of software testing plays an important role in successful product development, and it should not be ignored.
So let’s consider mobile app usability testing in detail. Usability testing is a process of software assessment by observing real users’ interaction with an application in an attempt to understand their behavior, way of thinking and preferences, uncover difficulties in user experience, and highlight obstacles to good usability. As a rule, recruited test participants carry out particular tasks while a person in charge keeps watching, listening, and recording important information that can be used for product improvement. Users can be asked to make comments and express their thoughts and feelings during task execution. If completion time is important and measured, users are interviewed later. In recent times the method of eye-tracking is also widely used during usability testing. It helps track the motions and focus of users’ eyes to ensure that the most important elements and information draw users’ attention. Special tools are used for this purpose, among them are CrazyEgg, HotJar, RealEye, OGAMA, Feng-GUI, etc.
It is strongly recommended to conduct usability testing repeatedly and as early as possible.
Depending on time and purposes of usability testing execution, two types of research can be conducted:
- Behavioral research reveals users’ actions, how they actually interact with an app, and how they feel.
- Attitudinal research reveals what users think and say about an application and its performance
It is very important to differentiate these two types of research as what users say and what they do are often two very different things.
As mentioned before, it is a good practice to conduct usability testing in the early stages of SDLC (software development life cycle). It can be performed as soon as you have mockups and prototypes. Carrying out usability testing at the start, you can receive useful tips on information architecture. For example, you can hand out cards with items and section names of the future product and ask users to group them in a way that is most suitable and convenient according to their opinion. Besides, uncovering usability defects at the very beginning, you can make necessary changes that will not lead to considerable wastes of time and money.
Taking into account the foregoing, let’s specify the benefits of the usability testing conduction for your application and business in the whole:
- Conducting usability testing, you can get reliable early feedback about your product and make necessary adjustments into the development process.
- Usability testing can uncover bugs that could have been omitted by QA engineers and developers.
- Usability testing reveals users’ behavior and thoughts that are a valuable resource of information on how to make app more user friendly.
- This testing can prove that an app meets all users’ expectations and that they can easily and intuitively use it.
- Conduction of usability testing for mobile applications in the early stages identifies possible usability defects, and you can save your time and money on recoding and redesign while fixing usability defects founded by the end-users after release can cost you a fortune.
- Usability testing helps create a perfect, user-friendly application that satisfies all desires and needs of the end-users. As a result, you can be sure that your application will be in great demand.
- Usability testing helps you stand out from your peers, as it guarantees high quality of your application that will not be unnoticed by end-users and rivals.
So why is usability testing important? This type of testing not only simplifies the development process and cuts down corresponding expenses but also significantly boosts the quality of your product, and the high-quality product makes your users satisfied and happy. All these provide you with good karma and an excellent reputation. Good reputation, in its turn, is very important for any business as it proves reliability, helps attract new customers and partners, and establish strong and long-term relationships.