Usability testing is testing with users. It allows evaluators and designers to observe actual interactions between a product and representative users, paying particular attention to where real people encounter difficulty. Testing supplies behavioural insights by observing how people use a product or service, and provides project feedback by evaluating the performance of the product being tested.
Usability testing can be conducted on websites, software, mobile devices, forms, or even physical environments. It can be done at different stages of the design process. We have tested everything from paper-based prototypes through to high fidelity, complete interfaces.
Although other techniques are valuable, it is often hard to predict what real users will do. A test with users will identify aspects of a design that cause real users difficulty, confusion, or misunderstanding; and it will validate aspects that have been satisfactorily resolved. With hard evidence from testing, project decisions needn’t be affected by subjective opinion.
Early testing with simple prototypes allows a design team to make improvements before it becomes too costly to make changes. By focusing the team on key issues, testing can make the design process efficient and save time.