Ladies and gentlemen, we are now arriving at our final destination: the perfect product. In the last part of our series “The customer as a compass of product development” we explain how to create the best possible user experience by conducting usability tests.
“Land Ahoy!” – The Usability Test
After identifying the right solution approach we develop the best user experience. In this phase, we also involve the potential user to ensure the usability of the product.
If there are usability difficulties we call them usability problems. We uncover these by conducting another method of user testing: the usability test. As a rule, we test user-friendliness on the basis of a product prototype. For this purpose we use task-based interviews. We also develop a guideline for this type of interview. However, the interview guide of an usability test describes scenarios that the user can encounter in realistic usage situations. Each scenario consists of individual tasks that the tester should solve with the product. We use the think aloud method to solve these tasks. This means that we ask the tester to comment out loud on his actions and share his thoughts with us. All verbal and non-verbal behaviours are documented and then analysed. Based on the consolidated findings, recommendations for optimization can be derived.
However, a completed usability test is not the end of the journey. Because usability tests are carried out iteratively. This means that after a test phase, an optimisation phase takes place in which we implement our previous finding. A test is then carried out to check whether the implemented changes have corrected the usability problems. This may continue in several loops.
This sounds like a very time-consuming process. However, only a few test persons have to be recruited per test phase. A formula of the “usability guru” Jacob Nielsen says that 80% of usability problems can be identified with just five testers. In fact, I can report from my own experience that after the first five to eight test subjects, you often only hear redundant statements. Therefore, we usually carry out our usability tests with this number of testers. It is therefore much more effective to perform several small tests than a single large test.
In order to avoid confusion and frustration during initial use we carry out usability tests at an early stage of development and well before a product goes live. If a product is already available online, however, quantitative methods can be used to identify possible problems of the solution and identify potential for optimization. These methods arise from the broad field of data analytics and show, for example, actual user flows and behavior, and in addition also answer questions such as: “What do my users do?”, “Where do many users break off?”, “Which areas and functions are used most often?”.
The background, the “why” behind the behaviour, the motivation and problems of users can only be validly queried with qualitative methods.
Conclusion: Anchors aweigh!
In order to develop innovative products, it is necessary to stop thinking too early about solutions. Instead, one should look for the true drivers of product development: the needs and problems within a customer group.
But in order to do so we have to start listening to the customer and enter into an exchange with him. Only those who ask the potential users of a product will find out what they need. Customer research serves us as an effective tool for identifying behavioural patterns and hidden motives. User testing creates the best possible product experience for the user.
It is time to allow the customer to take you on a journey. Since if the customer is satisfied the business goals are also achieved.