Usability testing is a very useful tool as not everyone uses technology in the same way. How you envisage someone using your application may be very different to how it is actually used in the real world, unless you can anticipate for these variations in behaviour, you may end up with a product which does not perform as well as you might hope.

Usability testing is the process of watching people use applications (or websites) and monitoring how they interact to best understand how a users experience can be improved, usually by tweaking the user interface.

For example:

If your application relies on a main menu screen, rather than a tabbed navigation bar, does your it require a slide out menu to allow users to quickly skip between different screens?

A search bar is fixed at the top of every screen within the app, but it’s rarely used. Does this mean it can be moved to a single page, allowing more content to fill the screen, or should it disappear when a user starts interacting with the page?

An application has been designed for iPhone, appears in a 2x window for iPad, is this acceptable for your users or is it possible to make better use of the larger available screen size?

Usability testing can be done either in the same room as testers, or remotely by sending them a trial version of the application and asking them to record their opinions as they progress through it.

The feedback from this testing can be summarised into a report which will outline all of the issues which have been discovered and categorise them into different levels of urgency and importance, along with a plan to resolve them.

Usability testing will generally take place when an application is at it’s Beta testing phase, although conducting a usability testing exercise on an app which is live in the app store is not an uncommon practise.

If you would like to talk to us about usability testing on an application you are currently working on, or one that is currently publicly available, send an email to [email protected] and someone from the team will get back to you.