Have you ever try out a trial version before subscription in order to check if a product is easy to use, understandable and does what you need it to do?
That’s exactly what usability testing is. Testing is like the holy grail of the UX process.

Usability testing has been around for a long time and yet many companies, large and small, don’t factor it into their workflow. Reasons range from, “It’s too expensive, it’s not in our budget,” or, “We don’t need to do user testing, let’s just focus on the analytics as that tells us enough,” to “We already know what our customers need.”

If so…well, you are wrong.

Watching users try to accomplish tasks on your website, mobile app, or another software product, is the most effective and efficient way to uncover usability problems.

According to Forbes, various large brands report that UX and usability testing have taken their business to the next level. For example, IBM reports that every dollar invested in usability brings a return from 10 to 100 dollars. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos invested in usability design 100 times more than in marketing during the portal’s first year. According to Bezos, this strategy was the one that led to Amazon’s overwhelming success.

The chart focuses on how usability testing budgets have increased through the years. Source.

Therefore, the benefits and purpose of usability testing are easy to understand. The earlier in the process you identify usability problems with a design, the earlier they can be fixed before the design is implemented or mass produced. Additionally, testing early and often will cut a lot of unwanted costs in the long way. This also applies throughout the project lifecycle everytime you design something new, you should be able to test it.

Usability studies can also be a persuasion tool. When your design recommendations meet resistance, it can be better to show rather than tell.

The most common mistake when designing and building something, is when you think you have it all figured out about how users will use and interact with your product.

You are wrong again. And this image below it’s a great way to explain why.

Yes, you have been working for a long time in the same project and you have a great amount of knowledge about how your users use your product now. But if you are designing something new, you need to test it.

Why? Because usability testing is not just for designers to understand how to make better designs but it is also an important tool to influence the rest of the stakeholders like clients, their sales/support team, project managers, developers and other designers.

Your product is an evolving product. So be ready to kill your babies if you have to.

Every stakeholder involved may have a different point of view for a design decision. Being subjective by nature, design decision often leads to long debates among stakeholders. Most often design decisions are influenced by a person who holds the highest position among fellow stakeholder or has superior oratory skills.

In short, metrics help us in iterating and validating design concepts. It gives objectivity to design debates and it helps in taking fact-based design decisions.

Still need some clarity about why usability testing is a good idea? Here you go:

  1. To check if product meet user’s expectations
  2. Matches business decisions to real-world use
  3. Removes flaws in the product
  4. Allows you to see how successful users are with their tasks
  5. Useful for getting user reactions and feedback about the product

To sum up, when done correctly, usability testing can provide you with powerful knowledge and insight you can take back and share with your key stakeholders, allowing them to see the true benefits of speaking to your ‘real’ users. This type of information is vital if you want to create a successful product that will engage your users and win their hearts keeping them coming back for more, ultimately turning them into your loyal users.