10 Great Reasons to Usability Test
Posted by Jacob Creech on May 13th, 2011
For all the tips I give on usability testing, explanations of how to get started, the reviews of different services I do, I get a very large number of people asking me why they should actually test in the first place (as if those examples weren’t enough!).
Today I’d like to present (in no particular order) a quick post on 10 reasons that everyone should perform usability testing. Read on to see a few reasons I think you should run usability tests, and be sure to add your own reasons in the comments below.
It (should) goes without saying, usability testing will improve the usability of your sites, apps, user interface, or whatever else you are designing. Imagine publishing a magazine or newspaper without having an editor read it first; that’s effectively what you are doing by launching a site without usability testing.
Usability testing will show up all those little navigation and ui problems, will help you discover all sorts of tweaks you can make, and will give you a whole new understanding of how users interact with your site or app – extremely valuable information to have at your fingertips.
Following on from improved usability is an improved user experience. If users have to spend too much time looking for your ‘add to cart’ or ‘subscribe by RSS‘ button they simply won’t bother. After implementing the results of your testing, you will remove the vast majority of these issues for the vast majority of your users, and they will enjoy using your site or app so much more because of it.
3) Improve accessibility
I recently wrote a post on the user experience of colour, and was really interested to find in the comments a huge number of people pointed out how colour can have a huge impact on accessibility; roughly 8% of men and .5% of women are colour blind so that is a huge group you have to consider.
There are all sorts of things that can affect usability aside from colour blindness, and the best way to find them is to get out there, test your site or app, and see what you find.
4) Produce more satisfied clients
The better their site works, the happier your clients will be. If users spend more time on the site, and are more likely to recommend it to others, they will be very happy. This is what a usable site with a good user experience can do, and this is what usability testing can do for your site or app.
Of course, the happier your clients are, the more likely they are to use your service again in the future, and the more likely they are to recommend you to others as well. All good things for you.
5) Make users feel involved
We frequently receive feedback from IntuitionHQ users who are surprised to find how much their users enjoy and appreciate being part of the testing process. It means the users take some ownership of the site, and feel much more attached to it.
Including users in the testing process really helps contribute to a sense of community, and that is something all sites or apps should be looking to build.
It’s much easier and faster to know what needs fixing when you’ve got results in front of you showing just what is wrong in the first place. The sooner you can fix things, the sooner you can move forward with your project, and the better it will be because of it. You really can save a ton of time by usability testing.
7) Avoid design by committee
Ever been to one of those meetings where every man and his dog has an opinion on why this button should be there, that colour should be 2 shades lighter, and why the design expert is wrong in a dozen other ways?
Having results from usability testing can show all the reasons why things are the way they are, or how they should be different. It’s very hard to argue when you’ve got a bunch of results from users showing what the best design or user interface would be.
One of the best ways to learn a new skill is by getting out there and doing it. Set up a test on your own site or app, and see what you find. Questions? Get out there on Twitter or Facebook and ask questions, talk about usability testing and user experience and you will learn a heap.
Keep making the most of the resources at your disposal, and you will learn a lot in no time at all. The more testing the do, the more you will understand, and the more impact your testing will have because of it. It’s really a circle of greatness.
9) Improve your own reputation
There are a million and one web and app developers out there, and although there is some (read: huge) variation in quality between these different developers, it’s hard to always stand out in a crowded market. Developing a reputation for producing usable, enjoyable websites will help set you apart from others. Happy clients who recommend you to others will help you stand out. Even offering a usability testing service in the first place will help you stand out.
It’s true for business owners too; if your site provides a better, more usable experience than the competition, users will be much more likely to return and spend money or time with your site, and all of these will do wonders for your business.
The more positive ways you stand out from those around you, the better your business will do, and easier life will be for you.
10) Add to your bottom line
Usability testing, and an understanding of usability is something you can really sell people on. Once they can see the benefits of usability testing, they will be pressing you to add this to your service, and it is something people are more than prepared to pay for. For example, setting up a test on IntuitionHQ costs only $9, but where the value lies is you expertise at setting up the test, interpreting the results, and improving usability as a result.
So now what?
Hopefully this post helps you to see the benefits of usability testing. Remember, going out and testing doesn’t have to take much money, and can even help save you time. It makes you stand out from the competition, and it will make users and clients love you.
As Jakob Neilsen said, “A bad website is like a grumpy salesperson”, and the inverse is also a true. A good, usable, enjoyable website is a great salesman; the one that will help you get your foot in the door.
Get out there today, do some testing, and help make the internet a better place, one website at a time. Happy testing!
Are there any other points you’d like to see added to this list? What has your experience taught you? Be sure to let us know in the comments.
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