A Deeper Understanding: What’s Usability Testing in the Perspectives of UX Researchers

Engineering Team of IDN Media

This article was written by Pratiwi Susanti, part of the Engineering team of IDN Media, for Timmy’s story program

Along with the growth of digital businesses, businessmen have now begun to focus on developing various products, such as websites and, in particular, mobile applications. That is why usability testing is one of the most crucial things that mobile application developers, especially, should understand well. Basically, usability testing is one of the substantial steps taken to find out whether the product design crafted is understandable enough for users to use.

Usability testing is actually a trial and error process that will result in feedback from users before the product is officially launched. The constraints that may be encountered by users when using the mobile application will be identified in this usability testing phase. In other words, usability testing is also related to the quality of the users’ experience. What a significant step!

1. Things that must be mastered by a UX researcher

I believe that usability testing has become a key requirement for a UX researcher to master. The capability is useful for validating the designs he/she has designed. In short, usability testing is a set of research techniques aiming to assess the level of ease that users are experiencing when operating the products we are developing. In IDN Media, the products that require usability testing are Yummy App and IDN App.

2. The crucial elements needed in the usability testing process

There are several vital elements that must be well-considered when carrying out usability testing. The first element is participants or some users who also use that certain product in real life. Taking a role as the representation of a product’s targeted audience, participants are required to complete a series of tasks so that an evaluative simulation mission will be achieved.

The second one is facilitators or moderators. In addition to managing a series of tasks that should be done by the participants, facilitators or moderators must guide them to work on a story task that has been set previously. When participants are doing the tasks, the facilitators or moderators will carefully observe the participants’ behavior and listen to any feedback they give. However, the facilitators or moderators can also ask follow-up questions to get details on problems that participants may have discovered.

The third element is a series of tasks in the usability test process that have been written in the form of realistic activities that may have been done by the users in real life. The assignment given can be very specific, but of course, it really depends on the research question and the type of the usability test, such as one we can find on the text editor of IDN App.

The last one is a goal or objective. This becomes a metric that must be achieved by the participants. For example, a situation is set: a participant who is writing an article wants to add some image objects. In order to achieve that objective, the question should be: to add multiple pictures on the IDN App text editor, what kind of method does this participant consider easy and effective? Simply put, it will stimulate new ideas from the participants.

3. Techniques to observe the participants while working on the tasks

Not only paying attention to the final output given by the participants, UX researchers will also do some observation techniques to observe the participants when they’re working on a series of tasks. Later, the results of the observation will reveal moments when participants are confused or have difficulty working on a given series of tasks.

4. The right time for usability testing

Pre and post-redesigning phases are the two best moments to do usability testing. First, before redesigning a product, UX researchers may usually compare the product they’re developing with other ones owned by their competitors. This will surely let the UX researchers know about the critical points that can be evaluated from their competitors. Expectedly, better designs that also lead to better interactions will be obtained.

Second, usability testing can also be done prior to the redesigning phase. Conducting usability tests on existing products will enable the UX researchers to initiate better design solutions. This also allows them to compare and contrast the previous ones with later ones. This way, the impacts of the changes made can be measured more easily.

Keep in mind that usability testing should be done as often as possible. Work with the team to identify major problems and re-test usability in the next iteration so that the design can be understood by users before the product is launched. Not only will the team be more confident in their own design, but the team will also be better prepared to solve more complex usability problems by making relevant adjustments.

To write is to figure a life out