The Importance of User Testing

User testing is essential to the development of a usable product that delivers real value to end customers. Include this vital step in your startup-building journey to help increase your product’s likelihood of market adoption.

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What is user testing?

Whenever someone uses your product, they’re user testing. In this section, we'll break down the case of a specific user executing a task with a product. During the process, reviewer observations include but are not limited to:

  • how the user is using the product

  • difficulties the user experiences while using the product

  • product omissions that prevent the user from completing the task

  • ease of use

While testing, the reviewer records all feedback for use in subsequent development steps.

User testing methods

You must have a scenario before you begin thinking about your task description. You can then conduct user tests in any of the following ways.

Moderated user testing

This is a planned meeting to monitor the steps a user takes to execute the assigned task. The user can either talk aloud or take notes during each step. Both sides may have a lot of questions, so this method allows for detailed note-taking to help prevent errors at later stages of the development process. As beneficial as this is, moderated user-testing is a time-consuming testing method.

Remote moderated user testing

Reviewers utilize screen sharing apps or other external tools to follow and record how users interact with the product. This approach allows users to test every feature and gives reviewers insights into whether the product needs additional features.

When employing remote moderated user testing, never force users to follow rigid instructions; instead, let them navigate your site or app so you can observe their natural, rather than conditioned, behavior.

Eye-tracking

To carry out this advanced testing method, the user gets a sensor that tracks their point of gaze as they look at and interact with web pages or applications. Once the testing session is complete, the eye-tracking tool provides the reviewer with a site map containing details about the user’s actions and where they were looking during the test. The reviewer can analyze this map to understand if the user had trouble understanding certain sections of a page or app; they can also check various behaviors. As eye-tracking is a costly testing method, only a few companies use it.

At U+, we start testing by having our user experience (UX) team create user personas. We then build test cases so we can cover every single feature we need to test. Our client can meet with us either with employees or random individuals who don’t know anything about the product—in this scenario, the client’s side consists of an average of three or four people.

A meeting facilitator is critical to the process, as they’re responsible for keeping a record of user behaviors and comments. When necessary, they can also give hints, but without actually helping testers complete tasks.

As you run user tests, ask the client you’re building the product for constructive questions so you can get detailed answers that will enable you to improve the UX. Also, bear in mind that, in theory, testing every single feature is always a good idea, but, in practice, such thorough testing is costly and time-consuming.