Usability Testing Service

You can always learn a great deal about your users when you observe them doing typical tasks and listen to what they think.

What is usability testing?

Usability testing is the activity that focuses on observing users working with your product, performing tasks that are real and meaningful for them.

In-person,  moderated usability testing can take place in a usability lab or remotely via conferencing software like Zoom.  Unmoderated usability testing can be done using a software platform like www.usertesting.com

Ecommerce ux texting
mobile usability testing

Why should you hire an expert for usability testing?

Experience counts. We’ve got the expertise that comes from decades of doing many hundreds of studies. We bring our honed skills in moderating and logging sessions to ensure quality without introducing bias. When you choose UX Firm for your usability testing, you get the experts, not junior staff assigned to your project who may or may not have the background or experience to do your study correctly.

Our methodology is based on Carol Barnum’s popular handbook on usability testing, the award-winning Usability Testing Essentials, now in a fully revised, updated 2nd edition.

Why should you do usability testing?

Usability testing is our most frequently requested service. Why? Because a usability study can be as small or as big as your needs require and your budget allows.  And because there is no substitute for learning from your users directly.

 There is no need to have a finished product. Usability testing can be done at any stage of product development, so you can build user experience into your product from the very beginning.

usability studies

We are your partners in usability studies

Understanding your needs and goals is the start of our partnership. We kick off our engagement with a planning meeting to determine the specific requirements for your study. Working with your key stakeholders, we define the characteristics of your users, the tasks you want to understand, and the quantitative and qualitative feedback you want to receive.

We debrief on the findings together, at points during testing and at the end. This way, you walk away knowing exactly what your action plan is, prioritized on the basis of the findings.

Finally, we follow up with a report that details the findings, and we present the findings to your key stakeholders in whatever format is best for you.

We provide in-person and remote moderated usability testing

Wherever your users are, we can reach them. Using our portable usability lab, we can set up on your site or another location or conduct remote moderated testing, or a combination of in-person and remote testing.

FAQ’s about Usability Testing 

How many test participants do you need for a usability test?

Our typical studies have 5 users in a day in one-hour sessions, with a findings meeting at the end of the day.

If you have budget for 15 users, we recommend 3 separate tests with 5 users each time, building user experience into the product in development.

How do you recruit participants for usability studies?

There is no substitute for recruiting real users for your studies.  You can recruit them in a number of ways:

  • Do it yourself, using your customer database for your current customers or social media for new prospective customers.
  • Do it with a recruiting company that can access your target users, using your screener.
  • Do it using one of the online platforms like usertesting.com or userzoom.com

How do you plan a usability test?

Planning is the essential starting place for any kind of usability test. In a planning meeting with your key stakeholders, you want to

  • set testing goals
  • develop the user profile(s) for recruiting screeners
  • determine tasks (which become scenarios)
  • create questions to ask during testing
  • select feedback mechanisms to use after testing, such as the System Usability Scale

You can conduct this planning meeting face-to-face or via web-based conferencing. Minutes of the meeting become the test protocol for the study.

How long does a typical test session last?

A typical test session is an hour. The timeline for the hour often goes like this:

  • 10 minutes—greet participant, provide orientation to the study, including coaching on “think aloud process”
  • 40 minutes—participant works through scenarios of use, based on the plan for the study
  • 10 minutes—post-test feedback mechanisms (questionnaires, qualitative feedback instruments, interview)

At what stage in the project should I do usability testing?

Testing can take place at any stage of product development, but the earlier the better. Here are some options:

  • Test older products or competitor products before product design begins to gather requirements.
  • Test early stage paper prototypes, clickable prototypes, and wireframes to understand basic concepts.
  • Test at the mid-stage of development using interactive designs.
  • Test at the late stage of development to confirm the usability of the interface.

Does usability testing need to take place in a lab?

Lab testing provides a formal setting for the moderator and participant to interact, with a separate room for observers to see and hear everything with the ability to talk to each other without affecting the testing session.

But, with today’s state-of-the-art portable lab equipment, it is easy to set up testing equipment at any location that suits the situation. You may not need the overhead and formality of a usability lab to get great results.

You can also conduct remote usability testing, using one of the collaborative software platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

Is remote usability testing an option?

Remote testing is a great option, especially during the pandemic. In a remote testing session, you get to record and observe the participant’s interactions with the interface and you can recruit participants wherever they live or work.

What are the usability test deliverables?

Test deliverables are typically, but not exclusively, the following:

  • All materials for each user (completed screener, pre-test questionnaire, post-task questionnaires, post-test questionnaire)
  • session recordings for each user
  • Logs or transcripts for each session
  • Findings meeting notes

Other deliverables include:

  • Executive summary report
  • Document-style report
  • Presentation-style report with screen captures/callouts
  • In-person presentation of findings with slide deck and video clips

What's the difference between a usability test and a focus group?

A usability test is not the same as a focus group. 

A focus group invites a number of people (typically 6 – 8) to share their thoughts about a product, based on their opinion about it. 

A usability test invites one person at a time to engage with the product and share their thoughts as they interact with it.  You learn what users like and don’t like because they are “thinking out loud” as they perform typical tasks with the product.

What is an example of a usability test?

Usability testing services
earbud usability test

Our client had developed a software technology that improves the user’s music listening experience. They had a strong commercial client base, with the technology being used in sound systems in automobile entertainment systems.

They wanted to broaden their customer base to extend to retail consumers who would want to enhance their music listening experience on their mobile devices. But they didn’t know what the target users’ key motivating factors would be to adopt this technology.

How would they react to hearing their favorite music with and without the sound enhancement technology? Could they clearly tell the difference? What words would they use to describe their experience? Would they respond favorably to the technology enhanced music? How much would they be willing to pay for the enhanced experience?

Key research questions

  • Assess if/how the audio technology improves the listening experience and whether it meets expectations
  • Gather user feedback on general look and feel + usability of the prototype; identify improvement opportunities
  • Identify additional audio features or enhancements consumers would like to see to improve their listening experience (for future releases)
  • Validate if the users see value being delivered by the product/technology and if they would consume music longer with this enhanced experience
  • Identify key factors that influence users’ willingness to pay for a premium listening experience

Testing Scope and Methodology

  • 14 participants
  • One hour sessions
  • In randomized order, each participant listened to 3 songs in different music genres
  • In randomized order, each participant used two different listening modes (medium quality headsets and high-quality earbuds) to listen to the 3 songs
  • Participants were exposed to the onboarding information to learn its effectiveness and whether users engaged or skipped the onboarding information
  • Participants engaged with the interface to understand its level of intuitiveness

Results
The client was able to learn what users want in onboarding (minimum text, engaging graphics), what changes would be needed to make the interface more intuitive, and, most important, how they felt about the product. They found it easy to use, high quality, effective, and innovative.

The client took the enhanced product to the Consumer Electronics Show and won an award for innovation!

Related Usability Testing Resources

Usability Testing Essentials 2nd edition

5 Users is Enough for Usability Testing

This video explains how 5 users can be sufficient for usability testing when key elements of testing are in place.

Usability Testing Essentials 2nd edition

Microsoft’s Product Reaction Cards Unlock User Satisfaction

How can you really tell if users are satisfied?  Give them a deck of cards and let them pick the words that reflect their experience.

Usability Testing Essentials 2nd edition

Remote Mobile Usability Testing Is Better but not Perfect

The times they are a changin’, and that goes for the platforms that support remote moderated mobile user testing, too.

Your Users. Our Experience.