What is Online User Experience Testing?

BY: Kwami Ahiabnu

If you have ever visited an online platform or website and you are faced with countless frustrations; poor system functionality, multiple clicks that don’t get you the information you require and a generally unfriendly space, then you are experiencing a website or online platform which has not been built with User Experience Design (UX) thinking.

The site’s poor User Interface Design points to the fact that User Experience Testing was probably skipped.

What is user testing?

User testing can be described as a mechanism used in online design processes to ensure that products, prototypes or features meet key requirements of users.

This evaluation process forms a very important part of User Experience Design (UX) .

What are the steps in user testing?

The first step in the user testing process is clearly defining your product or service: is this a software, app, website, social media tool or some digital channel? Once the product or service is defined, you must take steps to determine the population of  your offering.

This helps in the selection of key users who will take part in the testing.

 Usually it is not important to make use of large sample, since the focus is on getting high quality data with deep information.

Another important step in the process is determining the tool to be used in conducting the user testing; this could be a questionnaire or question guide etc.

 After the tool is developed, steps must be taken to administer this tool, either via face-to-face interviews or through an online means.

It is required that a qualified UX researcher should conduct this test or at least some trained personnel should be used in this exercise.

 During the testing, the researcher conducting the test should be able to garner insights on the users’ opinion, taste, preference and patterns of behaviour in order to paint a complete enough picture to inform product re-design and improvement.

There are a number of online services that can help with user testing including ; Research and Analysis tools (UserTesting, UsabilityTools, ClickTale and Verify Design and Framing tools( InVision, MockFlow, Proto.io) and  A/B Testing tools (Optimisely, Convert and Visual Web Optimizer).
The best time to undertake successful user testing is at the very beginning of a design not at the very end where product or service redesign will likely be impossible or expensive to undertake since huge investments would have already gone into the project.  

Why is user testing important

There are numerous reasons why online product or service designers should integrate usability testing in the overall design process.   

A key reason is that, it enables designers to identify issues with their design from user perspectives.

This is very crucial since it means cost reduction for product or service development.

Also user testing can save online products and service designers a lot of money, increase sales since users are likely to consume services or products they have empathy with and save time since you do need to go through costly processes to correct issues when feedback is given after a final product or service is put on the market.

User testing also enables designers to fail fast and fail often which means they do not go to the market with a bad product or service.

Furthermore, user testing provides user insights and evidence which is the bedrock for online product or service improvement which leads to consistently meeting and exceeding user expectations.

Although, User Experience Testing can be time consuming, demanding unique skills set and is a relatively expensive process, any product or service owner who is serious about bringing a quality product to market must invest in it.

  As it stands, developers and programmers who may be solely focused on how good the technology is, rather than if it is solving real human problems, usually build websites or online platforms.  

Therefore, User Experience Testing presents a very powerful feedback tool, which provides insights into what is working well and what is not working well and needs improvement.

In conclusion, user testing is a key requirement for discovering websites, apps and platform building design problems and is a critical step for online product and service success as it provides a key solution to ensuring that users are served with online products and services which meet their requirement, ensure great user experience and support organisation growth and development goals.

An organisation which commits to user testing will see positive growth as they will be able to attract new users and retain existing ones while as more and more users save time and money in accessing their online offerings.

The writer is the Director of Innovation at  Penplusbytes.org -
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