Whether you’re a UX designer, UX researcher, or anyone else in the digital product space, you might be wondering, “Why is user testing an important part of the design process?” This article is here to answer your queries and help you seamlessly integrate user testing into your design process.
We will define user testing, explain why it is important, and discuss when in the design process it is to be implemented. Additionally, this article will provide examples of tools that can help you with user testing. After reading, you will be ready to implement user testing and explain to your company or client why it is necessary for business growth and optimizing your users’ experience.
❗️ User testing is CRUCIAL to the UX design process – don’t skip it
⏰ There is no bad time to conduct user testing, whether you are in the early iteration phase or already have an active website or app
❎ User testing helps identify usability issues early to save you time and resources later on
🤳Recruit target users for your user testing in order to yield the most accurate results
What is user testing in design?
User testing is a vital part of the UX design process. The main objective of user testing is to assess the usability of a product by asking users to complete pre-determined tasks. User testing allows you to collect qualitative and quantitative data, by observing your users’ behaviors and collecting feedback while they are completing your tasks.
How to set up a user test?
In order to set up a successful user test, the following steps are recommended:
1. Define goals & objectives – What tasks should your users be able to successfully carry out that will help you determine whether or not your product is usable? Goal criteria can be quantitative (e.g. time to complete a task or number of errors made) and/or qualitative measures (e.g. behaviors and feelings or attitudes about using your product). Collecting this data will give you direction for future iterations of your product that will smooth out any bumps and provide your users with a better experience.
2. Recruit users for testing – Keep in mind to only conduct testing on those who are part of your user base. Otherwise, the data will not be an accurate representation of your product’s usability. For example, it wouldn’t be appropriate for a teenager to test out navigating through a website that will be primarily used by elderly adults and vice versa. Why try to put yourself in your users’ shoes when you can just have them test out your product themselves?
3. Time to test – Testing can take place in-person and/or remotely. Which option you choose will likely depend on time and budget constraints. Testing in person could be beneficial to catch more details about user behavior that you might not capture as precisely over video or asynchronously. However, remote testing is often cheaper and easier to recruit participants for, as it is often less time consuming since users don’t have to travel anywhere.
4. Collect and interpret data – Once you collect data from your quantitative and/or qualitative measures, then it is time to analyze what it all means. Likely, the data will help you determine ways to make your product easier to use and/or eliminate confusing or difficult-to-navigate features. Categorize and prioritize issues for easier analysis.
5. Make design improvements – After you have utilized your data to make design decisions, it is time to implement the changes. Finding out changes that need to be made doesn’t mean your original product is bad or wrong; it just means you have found better and more efficient ways for users to meet their wants/needs. If you’re a UX designer or researcher, you already know the design process is iterative and always evolving!
6. Re-test – Once you have made the necessary changes to your designs, it is time to test your new prototype/product. Conduct user testing again, watch how your users interact with the updated product. and learn what they think about it. You can compare your new data to your old data in order to confirm whether or not the changes made yield higher usability scores. And, since the design process is iterative, you might even find more design changes you want to implement…
Feel free to repeat the user testing process as many times as time and budget constraints allow until you find the perfect design solution for your product!
Why is user testing an important part of the design process?
There are several main reasons to why user testing is so crucial:
- Evaluates usability
It helps you find out if users are able to navigate through your product successfully and as you intended. Oftentimes the designer can have biases that influence their review of the product and, although, something is straightforward to them, it could be confusing to their users.
- Identifies errors
You can find out if there are consistent missclicks that your users are making within your product. See if there is a pattern to your users’ mistakes and find a way to make your designs more intuitive and straightforward.
- Enhances the user experience
Conducting user testing on your target user base allows people who will be using your product to directly influence features or design decisions that you make. This will allow for you to design with a user-centric mindset and meet their wants/needs.
- Validates design decisions
The best way to assess if your design decisions are making a positive impact on user experience is to test them out! You will quickly learn if your changes are helping your users navigate to access the information they are looking for more easily or not.
- Saves money
If you can conduct user testing before your product goes into production, this will save you money by not expending your resources into a faulty product. User testing gives you an opportunity to validate your assumptions and pinpoint issues long before the development starts, making sure you launch an already user-friendly product.
- Drives product success
Happy users can be the sole factor of making your product successful. If users can’t easily navigate and interact with your product, then they are likely to get frustrated and not use your product. Why would they spend time trying to figure out your product when there are competitors who conducted user testing and designed with a user-centered mindset?!
- Increases trust
If you collect feedback from your users and they see their suggestions being implemented, they will trust your product and trust that you care about their wants/needs. A little bit of empathy makes a big impact on your users’ experience!
When in the design process to implement user testing?
There is not only one time to implement user testing– the sooner the better; the more the merrier!
As soon as you have low-fidelity wireframes or prototypes, you can begin user testing. At this early ideation phase, you will likely aim to test how well your navigation structure is allowing your users to access the information they are looking for.
It is important to conduct testing on low-fidelity wireframes so that you are able to make key changes/improvements before investing too much time and/or resources into a faulty product.
Next in the design process, you should consider implementing user testing at the prototyping phase. Prototype testing will focus on assessing the usability of your product, as well as your user’s overall experience. This stage is extremely important in ensuring you are remembering to design with a customer-centric mindset.
Once changes are made after prototype testing, it is important to test again before sending your final product design to developers and going into production. Are you deciding between one or more final designs? Great. We have a preference testing tool for you to use!
See how these user testing methods work in these demos:
Is your website or app live and you’ve made it this far without user testing? Not to worry, it’s not too late! The design process is ongoing and iterative. Conduct user testing on your live product and implement changes into your next launch. The only wrong way to conduct user testing is to not do any user testing at all.
What tools can help with implementing user testing into the design process?
If we’ve sold you on user testing, but you don’t know how or where to get started– no worries! We did all of the research for you. We ranked the best user testing tools evaluating six important factors: features, best for use cases, recruitment options, cost, offered support, and user reviews. Based on this data, we scored each tool on overall product, ease of use, and quality of support.
Check out our list of the 17 best user testing tools.
There are tons of amazing user testing tools online, all serving different purposes. However, by taking time and choosing the one that fits your specific needs you’ll be able to easily integrate user testing into your design process and improve the quality of your products.
All-in-one user testing tools like UXtweak give you access to all research tools you might need in one place! Conduct user and usability tests, evaluate navigation, test prototypes, generate heatmaps and learn more about your users needs with surveys! There’s all you need and more!
The tool you choose for your user testing session will most often depend on the research method you’re using. However, there’s one user testing approach that we recommend to everyone, no matter if you are looking to test a low-fidelity prototype or a ready-to-launch product. And that’s usability testing.
Learn how usability testing works in these demos:
Ready to elevate your designs with user testing?
User testing is an integral part of the design process that helps drive the success of your product. It ensures your users are happy and able to navigate through your product with ease. Conducting user tests on your intended user base will provide you with an accurate assessment of your product’s usability. You will build trust and loyalty with your user base by demonstrating that you are designing with a customer-centric mindset.