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Usability Research – How to Start

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Did you know that 53% of consumers feel brands fail to meet their experience standards, and 73% of brands can’t provide a consistent experience across their different digital channels?

When it comes to capturing customer loyalty, providing an excellent user experience is key. However, nearly three quarters of brands are failing their customers.

To avoid this potential problem and make sure your brand is excelling when it comes to UX design, it’s critical to delve deep into usability testing before launching a product, site, or application.

This post will provide a quick overview of how to get started with usability research, so you can set yourself apart from your competitors.

What is usability research?

Usability research is a process of testing a product or application to determine how easy it is for real people to use. During a usability test, users will complete real tasks while a trained researcher observes. During the observation, the researcher will take note of any hiccups the user encounters.

This research provides insight into how UX designers can address problems before they launch a product, app, or website.

Usability research can be divided into three different types:

  • Comparative usability testing. This type of testing is used to compare the usability of one website with another. Usually, this test will have users engage with your website and a competitor website, or two different designs, to see what is and what is not working.
  • Explorative usability testing. During this type of test, a researcher will work to establish what functionality a new product should include in order to meet the needs of its users. Users will complete different realistic tasks while researchers observe.
  • Usability evaluation. A usability evaluation will test a new or updated service before or after launch. This test will determine how intuitive new designs are and whether participants’ experiences are positive or negative.

Usability testing is a vital part of market testing and offers direct feedback from real users and provides UX designers with an opportunity to fix potential problems.

How do you conduct a usability test?

Now that you know what a usability test is, let’s quickly review the steps of how to conduct usability research.

1. Know what you are testing

You can’t fly blind when running a usability test. You must know what you are testing. Are you testing a product? Are you testing a new design for a website? It may seem obvious, but you first need to determine what you are testing.

2. Identify what you do and don’t know

Before getting started, write down a list of what you already know. This includes what you know about the product you’re testing, how it works, and how competitor features work. Also, write down what you don’t know, including any questions you have. This will help guide your research.

3. Create a research objective

Instead of testing every single feature of a website or product, hone in on one main objective. Write this objective down. This will ensure the research remains relevant and focused.

4. Define competitor trends

Comparing and contrasting competitor products provides insight into what you need to test and analyze. It can even help you interpret and contextualize results.

5. Come up with tasks and questions

Once you have an objective and completed competitor research, you’re ready to come up with user tasks and write your main research questions. This will help your users understand what they are supposed to do during the test.

6. Create a research plan, research methods, and run a pilot test

Next, you’ll want to create a plan for your research, define your research methods, and run a pilot test. This provides an opportunity to work out any kinks before running your real test.

7. Run test and document everything

If the results of your pilot test are positive, you can run your test. During your test, take avid notes on everything. You’ll want help from a trained market researcher.

8. Analyze results and synthesize data

The last step is crunching the numbers, analyzing the data, and outlining clear, actionable insights for your UX team.

Wrap Up

It’s true that conducting a usability test takes extra time, but it’s time well spent. With usability test results, you can ensure your target audience knows how to use your product and is pleased with the user experience.

For more information about how to conduct a usability test, contact Fuel Cycle today.

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