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Usability Testing

What is usability testing?

Usability testing, or user testing is a study conducted to find out how usable an application or product is for potential end users. This can include usability testing of websites or mobile applications. Usability testing can be carried out on a prototype or a finished product.

Usability testing in software design

Usability testing can involve various stages depending on which objectives have been predefined. There are tests geared toward determining if the user understands the structure and navigation of an application. In other forms of usability testing, a user is given a particular task and moderators observe how well it is accomplished according to predefined parameters. In usability testing, data is then gathered to show how well users have interacted with a product. This data is then used to make modifications to a product or prototype before a new version is released into the market. Usability testing for software or website applications today can take place online and therefore save costs.

How to conduct a usability test

To conduct a usability test on a software application, a test user, an interface prototype, and a video camera is necessary. Often one person acts as a moderator and another as an observer. Depending on the type of usability testing performed, the observer may be in the same room or in a different room during the usability testing session. If the usability testing is performed through software or a form of online usability testing, the moderator can play both the observer and the moderator role. When the test session is set up, the test user is given a task or scenario to perform such as purchasing a product. It is important that the individual steps that the task requires are noted down. Later the product design may be optimized so that fewer steps are needed to perform a task. The earlier in the development process usability testing is carried out, the more mistakes can be avoided and the quicker an application may become finalized

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