#14 The Secret to Building Products That Users Love
If done right at an early stage, usability testing can help you spot problems when they are still easy and cheap to fix, reducing the risk of building the wrong product.
Read time: under 4 minutes
Why do usability testing? It reduces the risk of building the wrong product.
If done right at an early stage, usability testing can help you spot problems when they are still easy and cheap to fix, thereby saving you loads of money, time, and resources.
The mistake I’ve made most often is saying yes to a client’s feature request — the product I worked on ends up as a Frankenstein of different platforms merged together.
Do you want a dashboard? Ok.
How about a chat interface? Sure.
A Kanban board? Yea… why not.
And this was a bad idea. The more things a user can do, the more complicated the product is. We ended up shutting the project down early and never going to market. Why? Because it was not user-friendly.
The success of every product in the market is dependent on the user’s experience with that product and usability testing can help ensure the product you are building is convenient to use and easy to learn.
The importance of Usability in Product Development
Usability testing involves observing users as they try to complete tasks, often conducted repeatedly from early development until a product’s release.
During these tests, designers and stakeholders will try to understand certain behaviours and patterns and provide actionable recommendations to improve the usability of your product.
The purpose of this test is to ensure the plan for a product’s functions, features and purpose are in line with what users want by observing how real-life people use the product.
Yes, the design of your product should be visually appealing but if your user experience sucks, then it has failed to fulfill its role to meet customer needs.
Usability testing is largely a qualitative research technique and is not driven by statistics like surveys where lots of people participate. Usability testing is done using a small set of people, usually five to seven.
How to get started
Define a prototype.
Consider the goals or workflows for testing. As a starting point, use user personas, job stories, or user stories as a guide to define tasks or goals to test.
Define success criteria for each task.
Create a testing script that includes the purpose, chosen samples, testing method, a rundown of the tasks to perform, and questions you will ask your user.
Get help for your usability testing session! Ask friends or colleagues to stand in as notetakers.
Define a sample. 5 people is an optimal number to acquire all the insights needed since they spot 85% of all usability issues.
While performing the tests, make sure to have Quicktime, Sunflower, or another recording tool running. You can then revisit to clarify notes and/or analyze behaviors.
When you should be doing usability testing:
Before designing a new product or feature.
Before developing and launching a new product or feature.
After launching a product or feature. Even once you’ve launched a product or feature, you should continue to run usability tests to identify areas for improvement.
Google keeps it simple since 1998
Google users search a staggering 3.5 billion times every day. That’s 1.2 trillion searches per year!
How did Google become this successful? Search.
It doesn’t require a tutorial or a tooltip. It doesn’t show by default a million filtering options. One input box, that’s it.
Just type in what you want to search and hit Enter.
Even the early version of Google Search is the same, albeit with a few additional links at the bottom.
20+ years and the only change with Google Search is removing the additional links. They’ve made the UI simpler, less distracting, and the only function more obvious.
In the incredibly competitive landscape of digital products, usability testing offers a chance for better business and design processes.
In addition to everything that I have covered, usability testing enables you to:
Gain a deeper understanding of your target users
Matches business decisions to the real-world
Removes flaws in the product
Ensure that your designs function meets your users’ needs
Spot problems and remove flaws
Identify areas for improvement and opportunities for innovation
Remember, anyone designing a product should be aware of the importance of usability testing and understand the plan to conduct these tests.
Want to learn more?
If you're interested in running this play to run better Usability Tests, join designers from 40+ countries using UX Playbook. Get detailed step-by-step guides and templates to supercharge your UX process.
I hope you found this helpful.
See ya next week