Usability (UX) testing is the most objective method of identifying problems in your interface since the research is conducted on real (or potential) users of your product.
This is a longer and more expensive method compared to usability audit, but it seems more effective.
It can be carried out at different stages of development, starting with prototype testing.
You need UX testing, if:
Your product does not bring profit despite its high visible popularity.
You want to know how real users interact with your product, identify their problems and needs.
You are thinking of redesigning.
Your product/ project is in the process of development and it is required to test the efficiency of the main ideas at an early stage.
The key goals of UX testing are:
To reduce risks that will increase the chances for your product to get success.
To reduce costs because investing in testing will ensure you that issues will get caught sooner and good ideas will be introduced faster.
To optimize the product and make it better.
UX Testing: the Working Process
1. Identify product goals and KPIs
At the very beginning, it is quite important to determine the main product goals and objectives as well as the key performance indicators (the number of orders, registrations, calls, time on the site, etc.). All this allows you to choose the right direction in research.
2. Define problem features and options
Define problem features using popular analytics tools.
3. Make assignments for respondents
You should define user behavior scenarios to create tasks, then come up with appropriate tasks for the respondents.
4. Select respondents
It is extremely important to involve potential users for testing. If you do not have a clear idea about your target audience, compose some typical portraits and on their basis select appropriate respondents. 5-8 people will be enough.
5. Give a questionnaire for respondents to fill
Before testing, you should give your respondents a questionnaire (or the other form) to check how much it corresponds to the typical users of your product.
6. Arrange UX testing
During the testing, you give the assignment to the respondents; ask them to complete specific tasks and comment. All respondents' actions should be recorded for subsequent detailed analysis. After testing, a small survey should be conducted - the impressions about the product, the difficulties, etc. All respondents are tested at different times.
7. Make analysis and create a report
In the report, you will describe all the problems that the respondents had. Based on it you'll determine the degree of their criticality and give recommendations on their solution.
Methods of UX Testing
UX testing should be understood as a part of the design process. Integrating product testing leads to meaningful insights and feedback. It informs and validates design decisions that have serious implications.
UX Testing may include different methods depending on the nature of problems and product features. Here are some of them:
Trust test. It's a 5-second test to measure confidence that is focused on identifying credibility issues. It reveals the initial reactions users have to a particular product. Would your user actually use or buy your product? What degree of confidence would he/she have in using it?
Impression test. This test is used to measure reactions, including a keyword summary. It is also focused on identifying messaging and credibility issues.
Comparison test. Comparison (preference) test is the test with 2 or more alternatives and statistical results. It is conducted to evaluate two or more options, such as two design comparisons or your design vs a competitor’s. It's like a quick A/B test at the design stage that can quickly indicate which options work best. It helps designers make decisions quickly and with confidence.
User surveys. Different questions assist to identify pain points, rank features, get suggestions for opportunities, and much more. You may use user surveys to gather quantitative and qualitative data about users and their reactions to a product design or concept. Well-known Google forms or Survey Monkey service are good options for these aims.
Blur test. Blurring images to evaluate what calls attention appropriately or not. This kind of visual test can be used to analyze whether users are able to identify important images and CTA concepts. The blurred images can be created with Photoshop or another graphic design tool.
Summing it up, remember that UX testing allows you to:
Check whether your product meets the expectations of users.
Get accurate information about the user's work with your product.
Identify weaknesses in the interface.
Find the best solutions to solve these weaknesses and problems.
Want to find out more about the method? These sources should be helpful:
Handbook of Usability Testing by Jeffrey Rubin and Dana Chisnell
Usertesting.com - the platform that delivers an integrated and flexible way to create the best experience for customers.