26 / 06 / 23

UX 101 – Examples of Usability Testing

Welcome back to our UX 101 series! So far, we've covered the crucial research and exciting design stages. Now, it's time to put some usability testing methods into practise to see how well our designs work.

In this next phase, we'll show you how to test your UX design and ensure it's both functional and enjoyable for users. From gathering feedback to identifying usability issues, we'll guide you through the UX testing process using methods that will help you identify ways to refine your product. So, get ready to take your designs to the next level with UX testing!

What is usability testing, and which methods work best?

UX testing, also known as user testing or usability testing, is a crucial stage in the UX design process that uses various methods to evaluate a product's usability and user experience. It's important to test your UX design because it helps identify potential issues and areas for improvement before a product is released to the market.

It’s all thanks to UX testing that we can work out and refine a better user experience and guarantee increased customer satisfaction with the product.

You may find this stage is a catalyst for a mini-cycle of design and testing within your larger UX process, as the tested product may be retracted to the design stage multiple times to improve and then re-test it. If it sounds like a LOT to consider, don’t worry too much - there are lots of different usability testing methods you can use to help navigate your way through the maze.  

Some usability testing examples you might like to try include:

  • In-person testing involves observing and interviewing users in person as they interact with the product.
  • Remote testing is similar to in-person testing, but it's done remotely, often through video conferencing software such as Zoom.
  • A/B testing involves testing two different versions of a product to see which performs better.
  • Surveys gather feedback from users through a questionnaire to understand their experience with the product.

When UX designers employ these usability testing methods, they gain helpful insights into how users are interacting with their products. This helps them pinpoint any problem areas or confusing elements and make improvements to the user experience.

In summary, it's important to test your UX design as it helps to make the product more successful and user-friendly. Now let’s dive into some specifics…

What is in-person testing?

In-person testing is a method of UX testing where you invite users to come into a physical space and interact with your product while you observe and interview them. It's one of the classic usability testing methods and a great way to get valuable feedback, especially if you're just starting out in UX. With in-person testing, you get more than just verbal feedback; you can also observe your users’ body language, facial expressions, and gestures to gain a better understanding of their overall experience – good or bad!

How to conduct in-person tests:

When it comes to carrying out an in-person UX design test, there are a few things you can do to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone involved.

First, make sure you have a comfortable space for your users to sit and interact with your product. You want them to be relaxed and comfortable so they can focus on the task at hand as this will produce the most accurate results. Here at Formation, we’ve created a dedicated design and testing facility, our UX Factory, specifically for in-person testing.

Secondly, don't forget to introduce yourself and make some small talk to put your users at ease. Ask them how their day is going, and where they're from, offer them a drink, or maybe even share a joke or two. Just keep it light and friendly.

As you begin the testing session, ensure your user can access your product easily and everything is set up on the display screen correctly. Avoid hovering over your user while making your observations. Give them some distance so your presence doesn’t distract them. To obtain the most accurate results, give the users the freedom to test your UX design in their own way. Remember to avoid restricting or guiding their actions while they interact with the product, which is easier said than done!

During the testing session, make sure to take good notes and ask open-ended questions to get a better understanding of how your users are interacting with your product.

And finally, after the testing session is over, make sure to thank your users for their time. Once the whole process is completed, you can repeat it multiple times with different people.

Benefits of in-person testing:

  • You can have more personalised interactions with your participants
  • Feedback is richer and more comprehensive than quantitative data
  • You’re able to ask follow-up questions to add to your research
  • You can observe participants’ experiences in real-time and identity any struggles
  • It allows you to understand the participants’ context and environment better

In-person testing may be an oldie, but it's still a goldie.

Remote testing

Remote usability testing methods are often the preferred route for many companies. It allows designers to gather feedback and insights from users in a cost-effective and convenient way.

Just like in-person testing, the process typically involves selecting participants, creating tasks, conducting the test, analysing the results, and making improvements to the design based on the feedback received. However, the entire process is performed and recorded digitally, ready for UX designers to leap back into and decipher any behavioural clues.

Remote usability testing examples:

  • Use a PC screen recorder: Screen recording software is one way to test your UX design remotely. It can be used to capture the user's screen and their interactions with the product. This can help you observe your subjects' behaviour, identify issues, and get a better understanding of how they use the product. Where they click on the page, their mouse movements, and the route they take to their destination page will give you an idea of areas that need redesigning or improving.

There are countless platforms you can use for screen recordings. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, you could even carry out your user tests on Teams or Zoom by asking the participant to share their screen, and recording the session as they navigate their way through your website by themselves. Alternatively, you can try out other platforms popular among UX designers, such as Usertesting.com.

TIP: You may want to ask the users to be vocal about their experience and record the user’s voice during the test; this will help you identify the struggles they’re encountering.

  • Use eye-tracking software: Eye-tracking software can be used to monitor where the user is looking on the screen, which can help identify areas of the product that are being ignored or overlooked. This data can be used to test and improve the overall UX design of the product. Eye-tracking tools are a valuable UX resource as they record a natural and precise interaction between the user and the product, without interrupting it.

One form of eye-tracking which is rising in popularity is the use of virtual reality technology. UX designers may ask users to wear VR headsets and second their sessions to see which areas of the page they’re most drawn to.

TIP: Eye-tracking is an amazing tool, but it's not always one of the most suitable usability testing methods, according to UX Designer Andreas Olsson. If your goal is to see if people can locate a certain area of the page or complete a single action, a time test or a regular screen recording will suffice. However, if you want to observe their navigation through the site and how easily they complete the task, the eye-tracking method is your go-to.

Talking face to face

Aside from taking screen recordings, you can also conduct interviews with your users about their experience and get all the juicy gossip right from the source. By conducting UX design interviews to test the usability, you'll gain valuable insights into your subjects' thought process, preferences, and feedback about the product.

Interviews can be carried out remotely. There’s no need to fly across the country to sit down with your users. Instead, use the same video conferencing platform you’ve used for your testing to chat with your users in real-time and gain a deeper understanding of their experience over a virtual coffee.

A/B testing

An effective way to test different changes or variables within your UX design is through A/B testing.

A/B testing involves creating two versions of a design or feature and showing each version to different groups of users. By measuring user behaviour and performance metrics like click-through rates and conversion rates for each group, you can compare the effectiveness of the two designs or features.

What are the benefits of A/B testing?

A/B testing is a data-driven approach that helps you make informed decisions about which design or feature is better at achieving your desired outcome while keeping the user at the centre of the decision-making process.

A/B usability testing methods also enable you to be precise with your research by focusing on the influences of a single feature within your product. Doing an A/B test of a specific feature on group of users will give you closer insight into what happens when you make particular changes, and the science of it can mean magic for your UX design.

Lastly, the biggest perk of A/B testing, is that you can really test… anything! Whether you want to explore the best shape of a button, the location of a feature, your background images, written copy on your page, or the power of your call to action (CTA), you can put it to the test on real users and judge its effectiveness as a singular element of your UX design.

Keep in mind that A/B testing is just one tool in the UX design process and should be used alongside other usability testing methods like user interviews and surveys to get a well-rounded understanding of your users' needs and preferences.

How to conduct A/B Testing

When done right, the A/B method can be powerful form of testing. Here are some steps to ensure you’re making the most of your A/B user trials.

  1. Determine what you want to achieve from the test – whether it’s increasing traffic, conversions, or use of a particular feature – and target that function in your UX testing.
  2. Create two different versions of the feature you want to test. For example, two different calls to action, so you can compare their effectiveness. 
  3. Decide how many users you’d like for the test and split them equally between the two versions of your UX design. Keep the groups similar in terms of demographics, behaviour, and any factors that could influence differences in your results.
  4. Track the behaviour of your users, and record all sessions as mentioned in previous examples. Remember to also keep an eye on performance metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and bounce rates.
  5. Analyse your data to determine which variation performed better. Use statistical tests to ensure that the results are reliable and significant.
  6. Make improvements in your design based on your findings. You can then conduct another A/B test to continue refining and optimising your UX design.

It's important to make sure your A/B test is well-designed to get reliable and accurate results. With these considerations in mind, A/B usability testing is one of the most powerful methods for optimising your website's UX and driving better outcomes.

Surveys in UX testing

We covered the process of conducting surveys in the first article of our UX series, but to summarise, surveys are another common research method in UX testing used to gather information about users' attitudes, preferences, and behaviours. A huge advantage of surveys is UX designers can use them to collect data from a large number of users in a short period of time.

At some stage in the process of user testing and recording sessions, you may want to incorporate surveys into your work.

  • Conducting a survey after your UX design test will give you an understanding of how users perceive a website or application, what features they find most useful, and where they experience frustration or confusion.

You may want to ask your users question such as: ‘how has this feature impacted your experience?’, ‘is there anything you would change?’, ‘what drew your attention the most in this experience?’

  • Conducting a survey before your UX design test can provide you with demographic information about your users, such as their age, gender, education level, and interests, which can help you carry out better analysis of their interactions with your design and other similar products.  

Here, you may want to ask the users things like: ‘what is your current favourite place for this product and why?’, ‘how do you currently solve this problem?’, ‘what makes these products difficult to access currently?’, ‘how often do you use X and why?’

If you’re implementing a survey into your UX testing, it needs to make sense. Think of UX testing as the GPS system of the design process, giving you and your user clear and concise directions towards a mutually beneficial outcome.

Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Avoid asking confusing or biased questions that could lead to misunderstandings, or misdirection. Your user will appreciate the effort you put into designing the survey and you'll both be able to benefit from the insights you gain. After all, you want to make sure that you and your user are on the same page and can get the best out of the survey experience.

If you’re stuck on where to start with your survey, check out Questions, an online survey tool used by aspiring and current UX designers to conduct user surveys. You can also check out the first article in this UX 101 series Conquering the Research Stage for more info on questions and interviews. It’s never been easier to get started!

The mental recoup

Well done for making it this far in the UX 101 series. We’ve now covered the research, design, and usability testing methods of UX process. You might find yourself going round and round the carousel of these three UX stages, but that’s ok! Each time you loop around, you’ll have the opportunity to create an even better user experience, so hang on and enjoy the ride!

Next up, our final destination in the UX process: Implementation.

Formation Media is home to a dedicated UX testing facility. If you want to put a website or software product to the test, get in touch!

Written by Ewa Formation