Usability testing, also sometimes referred to as user testing, is a technique for evaluating the usability of a design by working with an actual or potential user of a product or system. At a basic level, a usability test usually involves a facilitator asking a user to complete a series of tasks (which may or may not be predetermined) while observing the interaction, noting any problems the user encounters, suggestions for improvements, and sometimes the amount of time it takes to complete a task. These findings are then fed back into the design and development cycle in order to improve the product or system. This does not mean that every suggestion made during testing should be directly incorporated into the design; rather it is the designer’s responsibility to consolidate and parlay the information into the next stage of the design.
Usability testing can be performed on products or systems at any stage of development, from the early stages of design to the final stages of production. It is most helpful to start early in the design process by performing usability tests with rough sketches or prototypes, and continuing to test more interactive prototypes as a product or system is iterated upon.
- Before you start, reassure the participant that you are not testing them, rather you are testing the design
- Ask them to “think aloud” to understand their behaviour in the context of what they are trying to accomplish, determine whether or not the design is meeting their needs, and identify any confusion about the purpose of a design feature or anticipated outcome of an interaction.
- Don’t help, react, interrupt, and draw attention to specific issues you care about.
- Don’t ask leading questions
- Take a note of any problems the user encounters, suggestions for improvements, and if useful, the amount of time it takes to complete a task
Please find more details about performing a usability tests at the following link: https://wiki.fluidproject.org/display/fluid/User+Testing