The goal of usability testing
is to provide developers with ideas on how to improve their
products to better meet users' needs.
User testing provides our team
with real data for which to base our recommendations. The value
of the data is that it enables the users to have a voice and for
that voice to be objective and neutral.
Exploratory Usability Tests
An exploratory test is used to
explore the concepts behind a design with the users. We do this
through focus groups and interviews.
Assessment Usability Tests
An assessment test is used to
determine the users' experiences with the interface during the
low-fidelity and high-fidelity design stages. An assessment
test may focus on one aspect of the product through to the
We typically ask between five
to eight people who represent the target audience/end-user to
perform tasks using the interface. (The interface may be in
paper form through to a working prototype.) The feedback from
the users tends to be qualitative and subjective, although we
may seek to discover quantitative or objective measures during
these activities as well.
Verification Usability Tests
A verification test is used to
determine the overall usability of a product after
implementation has taken place.
We tend to gather quantitative
and objective measures during these activities, although we
still seek qualitative or subjective feedback from the users as
well. We typically use more than eight users during the
verification tests to ensure we have enough data to perform
We also use verification
usability tests to benchmark the usability of a product.
This is essential for ensuring new designs are just as usable,
if not more usable, than existing designs.
Comparison Usability Tests
Comparison tests are typically
used to compare the usability of two or more versions of a
design or to compare a competitors product against the
client's. Comparison tests are also used to discover user
preferences between different options. We gather a range of
data and use eight or more users to ensure statistical validity.
Sometimes design questions
arise during development that are not possible to adequately
answer from the data gathered from previous user tests or from
our team's experiences. In this instance, we rely on research -
typically driven by a hypothesis - into the problem domain to
help provide a solution.
We believe the best user
experience information and feedback can be gained from the users
themselves. However, we are aware that this may be difficult
given time and budgetary constraints. Our team offers a wealth
of usability experience and knowledge that can be utilised to
gain maximum benefit from these types of constraints.
A rapid evaluation, typically
performed by one or more of our team, is often used to evaluate
a design - whether conceptual, low-fidelity, high-fidelity, or
an existing implementation - quickly and effectively to identify
any potential usability problems.
We encourage the use of a rapid
evaluation in combination with user testing. A rapid evaluation
should be used to discover those creeping usability issues that
tend to distract users from their goals. We believe it is best
these are quickly identified and removed before user testing
A heuristic review is similar to a
rapid evaluation except our team uses a list of pre-defined
heuristics with which to rate the product against.