Top Strategies for Effective User Testing in Software Development
Blog: NASSCOM Official Blog
What is user testing?
User testing is a research method that is based on observing and analyzing how a certain number of users use the software.
During this user testing, some following features are observed:
User testing allows us to approve or disapprove of the assumptions we have about our design.
Here are some top 8 strategies that will help you in effective user testing during software development.
- Explain the Objective
- Tell information about the application
- Get to know the user
- Ask the user to comment on everything
- Ask the user to perform specific tasks
- Ask the user to test the risky parts
- Allow the user to go to the next task if he is stuck
- Note down everything
We will discuss these strategies in detail, but first, let’s talk about the benefits of user testing.
Benefits of user testing
- Testing with users provides us with significant benefits for our projects, and this technique allows us to detect usability problems at a little cost since this type of study is much less expensive than other field studies.
- It is the best and only method to end discussions within work teams since this enables us to demonstrate with facts the usability problems experienced by users.
- And importantly, this technique helps us remember that we are not the users, so we must not finalize the results based on our theory.
In 2000, Nielson published a study carried out with Tom Landauer, where he showed that only five users are required to detect 85% of the usability problems.
Levels of User Testing
There are four levels of user testing:
- Unit testing includes the testing of individual units of software. The purpose is to check if each unit is working correctly.
- Integrated testing is the process where individual units are combined and tested as a group.
- System testing consists of testing of a complete, integrated system, and the purpose of this process is to check the system’s conformity with the specified requirements.
- Acceptance testing is the process where the system is tested for acceptability, and it is evaluated for business requirements.
Strategies for User Testing
1. Explain the objective
It should be explained to the user that the objective of the test is to evaluate the quality of use of the software, and he will not be evaluating a participant. So, he is the ideal user to carry out the usability test.
2. Tell information about the application
What we want is to know how informative and easy to understand our software is, so you should explain information related to the application to the user.
3. Get to know the user
Before starting, you can ask questions to get to know the user a little more, and these questions would be related to the application business. That is how we can verify if they already have interacted with similar applications.
4. Ask the user to comment on everything
It should be made clear to the user that during the process of testing, he must think out loud. He must comment on almost everything he understands about the software.
It will help you to identify the possible improvements and updates in the application. If the user does not express all of his thoughts, for example, if he is shy, you can ask him different questions related to the software.
5. Ask the user to perform tasks
The user should be asked to perform specific tasks related to software. These tasks must be based on the functionalities that most end users will perform after publishing software in the market.
They should not be asked to comment if the design is suitable or not since the functionality of the software is the primary concern at the time.
6. Ask the user to test the risky parts
Users must be asked to test the parts where usability risks are identified. If we want to know how good a particular aspect is, the task that we will give to the user must be related to this certain functionality.
7. Allow the user to go to the next task if he stuck
If the user gets stuck in some functions or specific tasks, thank him and allow him to continue with the next task.
8. Note down everything
We must note down everything the user is suggesting and also note the time taken for the specific task. Summarize these suggestions to find out the solutions to it.
Remember to customize the coding structure of the software, because if a user suggests to change or update something, you will be able to do it without wasting any time.
Purpose of User Testing
User testing is one of the most common evaluation techniques in software and web application development. The purpose of these tests is to analyze and observe how users interact with software or application.
User testing can be conducted at any stage of the application development. So it is more productive to do as soon as possible since the longer we wait to do it, the more costly it will be to correct the design errors we discover through testing.
Software developers and designers mostly use user testing techniques. It allows us to demonstrate with solid facts, the degree of efficiency and effectiveness with which our users manage to perform specific tasks.
By applying user testing, we will be able to achieve:
- Relevant information on the scale of usability
- Identify usability problems in a concise period
- Save time and cost before going into the market
- Know the behavior of end-users and reaction to the design of the application
We hope these strategies will be helpful when you are about to develop software for the public or company.