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An Agile Approach to System Usability Testing for UX Researchers

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UX mistakes are shockingly common. And they can have a major impact on your product adoption and retention rates. Research by Amazon Web Services shows that 88% of online shoppers won’t return to a website after having a bad user experience. Ouch. 

Choosing whether or not to include a hamburger menu, add more modals, or provide instructional popups could be key decisions that make it easier – or harder – for people to engage with your app, website, or ecommerce platform. And any one of these decisions, if made without input from users, could be costly.

It’s imperative to get feedback from your users so you can build in the right direction. Rather than having one-off customer interviews or asking a teammate for feedback, it’s ideal to get scalable insights designed to help improve your product. But that requires knowledge of the right questions to ask, how to build a survey, the ability to identify the right people to field it to, and the resources to do it all yourself… right? 

Perhaps not. System usability testing with Fuel Cycle’s System Usability Scale (SUS) survey template is one of the quickest and most reliable ways UX researchers can gather direct user feedback and gain insight into why certain aspects of a product work and others don’t. And because all the templates offered on Fuel Cycle’s Ignition platform are designed by research experts, there’s no guesswork required.

What is the System Usability Scale? 

In systems engineering, the system usability scale is a simple assessment that allows you to measure UX performance. It was developed by John Brooke at Digital Equipment Corporation in the UK in 1986 as a tool to be used in usability engineering of electronic office systems. 

Today, it is used to evaluate a wide variety of products and services, including hardware, software, mobile devices, websites and applications.

What are the Benefits of System Usability Testing? 

First of all, the System Usability Scale is an extremely well-validated methodology. It’s rated .91 out of 1 in consistency and reliability and produces consistent results even at low sample sizes.

It’s applicable to a wide range of technologies, systems, and products – from car infotainment systems to TV streaming services and works across multiple languages.

System usability testing is worth considering if you’re asking yourself any of the following questions, or the like:

  • Is my new app ready to release?
  • How easy is it to make a purchase on my website?
  • Is the usability of my client portal improving over time?
  • How does my website compare to my key competitors on usability?
  • How easy is it to file taxes using my software?
  • Will my customers be able to easily program and use their multi-cooker product?

How Does the SUS Actually Work? 

With the System Usability Scale, you can measure how your or your competitors’ UX stacks up against industry standards in terms of usability. It’s a standard 10-question assessment that allows you to measure UX performance, including ease of use, integrations, and intent to use the system again.

Benchmark data helps grade your performance against historical averages and allows you to track improvement of each UX over time. Optionally, you can test competitive UX systems to find out how you measure up.

Fuel Cycle’s SUS End-to-End Project Template 

We know how fast agile product teams move – because we are one! That’s why we developed a suite of customizable survey templates for all your UX research needs. We did heavy lifting so you can get in, get out, and get results.

The Survey 

Here’s what the templated SUS survey in Fuel Cycle’s Ignition platform looks like. Questions 1-10 are on a scale of agreement.

  1. I think that I would like to use this system frequently. 
  2. I found this system unnecessarily complex. 
  3. I thought this system was easy to use. 
  4. I think that I would need the support of a technical person to be able to use this system. 
  5. I found the various functions in this system were well integrated. 
  6. I thought there was too much inconsistency in this system. 
  7. I would imagine that most people would learn to use this system very quickly. 
  8. I found this system very cumbersome to use. 
  9. I felt very confident using this system. 
  10. I needed to learn a lot of things before I could get going with this system. 
  11. Open-end: Why would you/would you not use this system frequently? 
  12. Open-end: Describe the key challenges you faced. 

The Results 

Our app makes it easy to run templated SUS studies and get immediately digestible results. The Fuel Cycle SUS results report includes:

  • Overall system usability score, graded and benchmarked against the industry 
  • Action recommendation  
  • Performance scores for individual questions  
  • Searchable open-ends by question 
Section of an example SUS report in Fuel Cycle Ignition

Interested in Learning More? 

If you’re already a Fuel Cycle user, click here to walk through a sample SUS survey. To discuss how running a study through Ignition can help further your specific initiatives, reach out to your account lead for more information.

If you’re not a Fuel Cycle user yet, get in touch and we’ll show you how our agile survey templates can help improve your product UX, usability, marketability, and more.

Want to learn more about the Fuel Cycle platform?