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Conduct usability testing 

Usability testing is a method for determining how easy an application is to use by testing the application with real users in a controlled setting. Users are asked to complete tasks to see where they encounter problems and experience confusion. Observers record the results of the test and communicate those results to the development team or product owner.

To conduct a usability test of your application, you need to recruit test participants. Select test participants who have the same skills as your production application users.

After you plan the usability test and recruit usability test participants, you conduct the usability test.

Usability testing typically involves six stages:

  1. Select tasks to test
  2. Document sequence of testing steps
  3. Decide on the testing method
  4. Select participants
  5. Conduct tests
  6. Compile feedback

Select tasks to test

Work with the product owner to select the tasks to test. The selected tasks cover the most common and important use cases. For example, you are conducting usability testing for a time-sheet application.

The product owner identifies three tasks for usability testing:

  • Users enter their hours worked in the time-sheet application, and then submit the timesheet to their manager for approval.
  • Users can view their vacation balance.
  • Managers review and can approve timesheets.

Document sequence of testing steps

Break down each of the identified tasks into a sequence of steps and document them. Then, give this document to the usability testing participants.

The following steps explain how to enter a timesheet.

  1. Use the Timesheet application to enter your hours for the week.
  2. Submit the timesheet for your manager’s review and approval.

    Use the following table as a reference.
    Day of the week Activity
    Mon Attended training on Agile Methodology
    Tue Attended training on Agile Methodology
    Wed Attended training on Agile Methodology
    Thu General Work
    Fri General Work
  3. Begin by adding the appropriate time codes for training and general work for each day of the week.
  4. Review, and then submit your completed timesheet.

Decide on a testing method

Usability testing can be conducted in an unmoderated or moderated setting. The brevity and quality of your testing instructions are critical when conducting unmoderated testing because one can guide the testing participants if they need help. The benefit of conducting moderated testing is that you can immediately respond to user behavior and ask questions.

Select participants

Consult with the product owner to get the list of end user participants who will participate in performing the usability testing.

Conduct testing

Ensure that the usability testing participants understand the tasks and the sequence of steps. You want the usability testing participants to perform these tasks without assistance. Monitor the participants as they perform the testing, take notes, and measure all interactions. While participants perform the testing, they should also take notes based on what they observe.

Compile feedback

Compile feedback based on the notes provided by the testing participants and further discussion with the participants. Consider measuring both user performance and user preference metrics. Users' performance and preference do not always match. Often users perform poorly when using a new application, but their preference ratings may be high. Conversely, they may perform well, but their preference ratings are low.

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