Usability Testing: A Wise Choice to Good Design

Reading Time: 6 mins approx.

It has been more than two years since I started my journey as a UX designer. I was fortunate enough to be with a team where I was encouraged to learn a lot on my own and experiment things. As a result of which from the day one in my career, I have always been eagerly looking forward to an opportunity where I really got a chance to implement what I learned and read from different articles on UX. One of the topics that grabbed my interest was Usability Testing which is considered to be one of the crucial areas in the UX discipline.

What is Usability Testing?

Usability testing is a process of understanding how easily our users can use our product by testing them with real users. It helps us to gather information about the imperfections in our product design in terms of navigation, aesthetics, and functionality. To collect these details users are given a set of tasks to complete using the product. Their interaction with the product will be closely monitored by a researcher who would then gain insights on different areas where the user encountered a difficulty and was confused. While testing, users are encouraged and prompted to provide their honest suggestions and feedback which would help to redesign.

When do we conduct usability testing?

Usability testing is a vital process in product development that can be performed at any stage of redesign i.e. before, during, and after. However, I would suggest it would be good enough to conduct a quick usability test at all the stages because:

Before redesign – Acquire

Gives you an idea of where the major iteration needs to be done and how these flaws can be resolved effectively as we have received the opinion from our target user. Usability testing helps you in being sure of what you are expected to do.

During redesign – Test

It is not always necessary to perform the test on a finished product. Testing can also be done with sketches or interactive prototypes. This saves much of the development time as we get a chance to validate our design and thoughts before it is transformed into a fulfilled model.

After redesign – Validate  

At this stage, the user can interact with the final redesigned product. Therefore,  we will be able to test the experience they had when using the product.

We have a lot of tools available to conduct usability testing. However, I had conducted my usability testing using a tool called Morae.

Now, let’s dig a little deeper into the Morae tool.

What is Morae?

Morae is a usability testing software tool used to record, observe, and analyze usability studies rapidly and efficiently. During the study, all interactions of the user with the product which includes screen texts, keystrokes, and mouse movements are captured and recorded. Morae tool can be used to test prototypes, websites, and applications(web/mobile) in the hands of target users, get real-time feedback from them and improve the product design.

It possesses the following major functionalities:

  • Recording a user session.
  • Saving it (all audio, video, and notes) in the default Morae format (.rdg) using Morae Recorder
  • The observer can take down notes based on their observation using Morae Observer. These notes will help you to analyze the results and share your insights with others.
  • Import the recordings into a project in Morae Manager for its analysis and review.

What are the benefits of using Morae usability testing tool?

  • It helps us in understanding how easily users can use the product and complete their tasks
  • Check if the product is capable of satisfying the user’s expectations.
  • To understand the strength and flaws of the product and thereby take steps to eliminate the flaws.
  • To obtain the user’s reaction (facial and verbal) and feedback about the product.
  • Tests can be conducted in the user’s natural environment and hence they would feel comfortable and free to give honest feedback without getting intimidated.

What are the different applications of Morae?

The three different roles involved in Morae usability testing are Facilitator, Observer, and Manager. Each of them uses a separate application of Morae to perform their task. These applications are:

  1. Morae Recorder:

The facilitator would create a study configuration by providing:

  • Brief introduction of the usability session
  • Set of tasks for the user to complete and define its scores
  • Define the markers and its scores.
  • Define surveys and associate it at different events of the session.

Once the study configuration is created we need to set up the recording details. In the absence of a facilitator (unmoderated usability testing), we would enable the autopilot mode so that all instructions, tasks, and surveys will be delivered automatically during the session. For an unmoderated test always ensure that the instructions are clear and descriptive as the participant cannot be guided during the test.

2. Morae Observer:

The observer of the test will remotely view the participant and note down their observations. This is where he/she logs in the task and the corresponding task scores. The participant’s behavior will be marked using the markers defined in the study configuration.

3. Morae Manager:

The manager can import the recordings and perform three critical tasks:

  • Analyze/edit the recordings
  • Create graphs of the data collected
  • Build highlight videos and presentations

How do we conduct usability testing using Morae?

To conduct the test, the facilitator (the one who runs or facilitate the study) will have to plan and set up a study configuration prior to the test. This study configuration will contain a set of tasks for the user to perform related to various features of the product under test. Before performing the task the participant will be asked to fill out a survey to collect their personal details and preferences. And on completion of all tasks, he/she will be again asked to fill out another survey to gather information regarding the overall experience.

While performing the task the user will be prompted to think aloud, in terms of what he/she is doing, the information he/she is looking for, what he/she expects and wants to do, etc. This would help us to capture the complete task process. The user will also be encouraged to give their feedback and suggestion which would be a lot valuable to us during our redesign phase.

The facilitator should ensure the user’s comfort and must let them know the test is conducted to test the usability of the product and not their abilities. This would be helpful for them to do the tasks at ease without being conscious of the mistakes they might do. Save the recording for later reference.

Meanwhile, the observer can watch the participant live and gain insights about the user’s expectations. His observations will be noted down which will be saved as a record of reference.

Later, the manager analyses, reviews, and edits the recordings and tasks using the Morae Manager. They can also create graphs and prepare a presentation that highlights the major areas of study. The presentation can be shared with our colleagues for a detailed analysis and capture their thoughts. All of these data can be used to come to a conclusion in deciding what are the necessary steps to be taken in improving the usability and experience of the product.

Conclusion

Usability testing will help us in bringing a design that would guarantee in creating an experience where users feel that we were able to deliver more than what they expected. No complaints – only satisfaction!

There are extensive ways to conduct usability testing and Morae is just one such tool which can be used to conduct both moderated as well as unmoderated usability testing. Besides usability testing, it can also be effectively used for market research to understand the user’s needs and preferences.

Published by

Architha Nair

Architha is a diligent and hardworking girl who is keenly interested in UX. Usability Analysis is her favorite field in UXD and she has done several projects in the same. Her ability to quickly learn and grasp new information and her ability to communicate effectively with everyone is commendable.

One thought on “Usability Testing: A Wise Choice to Good Design”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s