Usability Testing

Two people in a room. One watching the other use something on laptop computer.

Usablitiy Testing is watching people actually use the thing you are creating, building, or designing

About Usability Testing

Simply put, usablitiy testing is watching people actually use the thing you are creating, building, or designing (or something that already exists), with the intention of making it easier to use.

This is usually done by having a facilitator sit with a participant in a room, giving him tasks to complete, and asking him to think outloud as he does the tasks. Team members and stakeholders observe from a different room and take notes. After the testing sessions the group has a debrief metting where they compare notes and and decide what problems need fixed and how to fix them.

Benefits of Usability Testing

  • Most serious problems tend to be easy to find
    • About 85% of usability problems can be found with just 5 usability tests.
    • We all think we know how things are supposed to work, but usability testing shows what users actually have problems with.
  • Relevant information
    • See and hear what actual users do and think, instead of relying on guesses and assumptions.
    • Testing helps clarify differing opinions amongst project team members.
  • Less Costs
    • Usability testing helps identify where to spend time and money for changes and development.
    • When implemented early on in a project, Usability Testing can help conrol costs by identifying issues before a project is complete instead of trying to make changes (possibly expensive ones) after the fact.
    • The main goal of usability testing is to help make life easier for the end user and help them acheive their desired outcomes, and any testing will help!

Getting Started with Usability Testing

Usability testing is available thru the MarComm Co-op, a service of Univesity Relations. The Co-op is an "agency for hire" to help departments create and develop communication pieces and also provides user experience and usability testing services.

To get a project started fill out the Project Request Form.