Usability testing (UT) is a staple in the UX industry and is one of the most used methods of research. Its versatility in testing a range of different digital products at various points in their development cycle makes it a reliable practice that delivers valuable results.
Depending on where the product is in its development cycle, you can utilise variations of usability testing to obtain particular insights. Four key types of usability tests are known as: Explorative, Comparative, Assessment, and Validation:
Explorative Usability Testing
Explorative testing, sometimes known as formative testing, is most effective when conducted at the beginning of a product’s development cycle. This is because the underlying methodology enables researchers to assess what is and what is not working in a design, concept or offering before it is fully formed, thus mitigating financial and resource implications if something is wrong. The methods used in this type of testing exhibit task-based scenarios and open-ended questions to observe and elicit findings from users. The results can effectively create empathy for the user and provide stakeholders with a clear understanding of user needs.
Comparative Usability Testing
Comparative testing is best used when comparing two different materials. These can be concepts, fully formed designs or even elements of designs. Several types of findings can be gleaned from this methodology including preference, efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction. As well as gathering qualitative findings through comparative testing, it is possible to quantify whether one concept is more “successful” than the other, equipping stakeholders with an informed view on which design surpasses the other, and why.
Assessment Usability Testing
A summative test, known as an assessment, is quite simply a way to gauge a digital product or service’s usability. Similar to other types of usability testing, assessment testing can also be conducted early in a product’s development cycle. The fundamental process involved in this method is to observe users engaging with interactive designs through a task-based script. The insights will highlight any issues in the designs that could result in users being unable to complete tasks or fail to reach their goal.
Validation Usability Testing
Validation usability testing occurs towards the end of a product’s development. Validation, unlike the other types of usability testing solely focuses on obtaining quantitative findings. Completion rate and time taken on a task are common statistics development teams want to establish. The key benefit of understanding these elements can enable researchers to benchmark designs over time, checking if future iterations are outperforming their predecessors.
What’s in your blind spot
Here at Experience UX, our most frequently performed usability test is explorative testing. Oftentimes, usability testing is the first time our clients see and hear their users engaging in their products and services. This first-hand knowledge of what is and is not working grounds the development of their products and services in user-led insights.
Each form of usability test is designed to obtain the particular insights you require in your product development cycle. By applying the essentials of good usability testing practice, you will be able to adapt your methods. Discover what’s in your blind spot by observing your users interact with your digital products and services.