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Can anyone explain the concept of "Usability Testing"?

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Hi Madhumitha,

Usability Testing means that, the software how much easy to used or handled by Customer (End User)..

To perform usability testing we no need to know any technical things. The Software which is in front of you should be very easy to use means that option should be understandable by the person when he is look first..

If the 3rd Person able to use your software without any user guide doc or help file then we may 100% assure that software is passed in usability Testing.
Usability Checklist
Make sure you check your web site against our usability checklist tips.

* Make sure the content of your website is 'web friendly'. By this we mean ensure that the actual content is readable and not a regurgitation of the company brochure. The web user wants to be spoken to directly, they do not want to read the salesman patter of your offline promotional documentation. Always ensure you speak directly to your user rather than 'at them'.
* Make content easy to find throughout the site and ensure that the user finds what they require. If the information is not there, the user will show no mercy in going elsewhere. This does not by any means mean that the site must be a dull flat text only site.A good design will always include natural and intuitive navigation, that will bring the user to the desired information in the least amount of time, whilst still being aesthetically pleasing and maintaining the company brand. With a low-level attention span, the user wants instant gratification and whilst finding it quickly they equally don't want to get lost in the site. It is essential that the navigation should promote this and guide the user to their desired destination as soon as possible.
* It is important, that when designing a site or looking at usability procedures, the site should satisfy both the novice and savvy web users. The user is not a homogenous group and because of this, ensure you test the design and the navigation of your site with as many different types of potential groups as possible. Feedback loops should be set up between the user groups, you and the designers to ensure the continual evolution and growth of the site. Make sure you remember the context of your site. Different sites have different requirements. E.g. speedy downloads may be a necessity and images on the site may have to be kept to a minimum. For sites that require visuals, the requirements are different. Know your user and design for them and not you.
* Make sure your site is focused and the purpose of its being is clearly identifiable to the user. Ensure you site provides what it says it will provide. For example, a company we recently worked with told us prior to any services that they were the top UK history resource. When we analysed the site it was just an incomplete glorified listing directory with little substantial content that would be seen as a useful resource.
* Ensure your site is as accessible to as many people as possible. Cross browser compatibility (viewable across many browsers) also ensures that those who have difficulties in using the web are able to view and use your website successfully. This will ultimately increase both the traffic and reputation of the website, ensuring users will return to you site time and time again.
* You know the old adage what's the point in a website if no one ever sees it? Well whilst that is true, the other end of the spectrum is also true. What is the point of a website that can be seen by all, but is actually hard to navigate around and offers nothing by way of usability? Is there any point to a site that although it reaches the top of the search engines and directories, the user will level the index page as soon as they arrive? Make sure that you optimise your site so that the user finds what they want and don't leave your site to go to your competitors.
Usability testing is the standard by which you can determine if the design of an application meets the needs of its intended users and allows them to work productively.
What is usability testing?

In a usability test, representative users try to do typical tasks with the product, while observers, including the development staff, watch, listen, and take notes. The product can be a Web site, Web application, or any other product. It does not have to be a finished product. You should be testing prototypes from early paper-based stages through fully functional later stages.

What are you looking for in a usability test?

In each round of usability testing, you should first identify specific concerns and goals for that round of testing and develop the test to focus on those concerns and goals. For example, at the beginning of a project, you may be testing to set quantitative baselines (such as time, error rates, and satisfaction) for comparison to later tests of your revised site.

In a typical usability test, you want to:

* identify any usability problems that the product has
* collect quantitative data on participants' performance
* determine participants' satisfaction with the product

How does usability testing fit into user-centered design?

Usability testing is a major part of user-centered design. A user-centered design process should include a series of tests developed specifically to evaluate both performance and preference.

When should you do usability testing?

Test early; test often. Usability testing lets the design and development teams identify problems before they get "set in concrete." The earlier those problems are found and fixed, the less expensive the fixes are. As the project progresses, it becomes more and more difficult and expensive to make major design changes. The more you test and change based on what you learn, the more confident you can be that the site will meet your objectives and your users' needs when it is launched.

Iterating—developing a prototype, testing it with users, analyzing the test results, changing the prototype based on the findings, and then repeating the test, analyze, revise cycles—is the best way to produce a successful Web site or Web application.

What can you learn through usability testing?

In a typical usability test, you may want answers to these questions:

* Are the test participants able to complete the task scenarios successfully?
* Considering successfully completed tasks, how fast do participants do each task?
* Considering successfully completed tasks, how many pages (clicks) does it take to complete each task?
* Do participants perform well enough to meet the usability objectives?
* How satisfied are participants with the site?
* What changes are needed to make sure that the site will enable more users to perform more successfully?

You might also have more specific questions. For example, if one of your concerns for this round of testing is how well the search function works for users, you might focus on these questions:

* Do participants click to pages or do they use search?
* What words do they use most when searching?
* Is the search box in a good location and is it large enough for most of the words used?
* Do the search results provide leads to quick answers to users' questions?
* When search results do provide answers, are the answers usually on the first page of results?
* Does the search do a good job of detecting and helping to resolve typing errors?

What should you keep in mind when usability testing?

Four important points to keep in mind:

* You are testing the site not the users.
* Rely more on what you learn about performance than preference.
* Make use of what you learn.
* Try to find the best solution given the reality of your many users.

You are testing the site not the users

For some users the term "testing" has a negative connotation. We try hard to ensure that participants do not think that we are testing them. We help them understand that they are helping us test the prototype or Web site. In fact, don't use the term "testing" with participants at all. Instead, invite participants to help by "trying out the prototype."

When users have difficulty completing a task, we fix the Web site, not the users. Both out loud and in your thoughts, ask "How well does the site allow typical users to meet their goals?" rather than "How well do users do on the site?"

Rely more on what you learn about performance than preference

We can measure both performance and preference. Performance measures include success, time, errors, etc. Preference measures include users' self-report of their satisfaction and comfort.

Some designers believe that if they design to meet users' preferences, the site will enable users to perform well. The evidence does not support that.

In fact, people's performance and preference do not always match. One study found that about 70% of users had performance and preference measures that agreed with each other. That is, they either performed well and liked the Web site or performed poorly and disliked the site.

However, this leaves a relatively large percentage of people (30%) for whom performance and preference measures did not agree. They either performed well and disliked the site or performed poorly and liked the site.

Various reasons have been proposed for why people often rate a site more highly than their performance would lead us to expect. They may blame themselves for the problems that they have, rather than the site. They may think they would be hurting our feelings by giving the site a low score. They may not be aware of the problems they had and think they were successful when they were not. All of these reasons support the recommendation to rely more on what you learn through performance measures than through preference measures.

Make use of what you learn

Usability testing is not just a milestone to be checked off on the project schedule. A usability test is not finished when the last participant leaves. The team must consider the findings, set priorities, and change the prototype or site based on what happened in the usability test.

Try to find the best solution given the reality of your many users

Creating any product, including most Web sites and Web applications, requires considering many different users with different ways of working, different experiences, and different questions and needs. Most projects, including designing or revising Web sites, have to deal with constraints of time, budget, and resources. Balancing all those is one of the major challenges of most projects.

As you weigh constraints and trade-offs, push for creating the Web site or Web application that will enable the greatest percentage of your users to successfully answer their questions and complete their tasks. Research shows that the cost of supporting unsuccessful users after a product is launched is far greater than the cost of fixing the product to meet users' needs before it is launched.

As you consider your personas, their scenarios, and what you learn in usability testing, try to find the ideal solutions to your design problems - given the needs of the different users you have identified. Settling for less than the best means having users be less successful than they otherwise would be. Evidence shows that even after extended use and experience, when they have a less than optimal product to work with, users never achieve the success they would have if they had had the better interface.


How many participants are needed for a usability test?

It depends. A typical range is from 8 to 16 (per user group) each test. If each user works with you for an hour, that means one or two days of testing, peruser group.

You might need only four to six people to help you find serious problems, if you:

* are doing paper prototypes or are in early development
* plan several rounds of testing throughout development
* have a fairly homogenous user population

If you have different potential user groups (for example, physicians, patients, researchers), try to include representatives of all these groups. If you are likely to have users with a range of Web or computer experience, try to include both less experienced and more experienced users.

If you want to conduct formal quantitative testing on your products or systems, you'll need more people to derive statistical results. For diagnostic usability testing, six to eight users are usually enough to uncover the major problems in a product.

If you do iterative (repeated) usability testing over the course of developing the Web site, many users will participate in testing one or another version of the emerging site. Thus, while you may have fewer than 10 participants in each usability test, you may have 15 to 30 people who have tested some version of the site before it is launched.

How much does it cost to do usability testing?

Cost depends, of course, on the size of the site, how much you need to test, how many different types of users you anticipate having, and how formal you want the testing to be.

Having a standard process and reusable materials makes usability testing faster and less expensive. If you or your recruiting firm develops a database of users, recruiting becomes less time consuming and, therefore, cheaper.

Consider these elements in budgeting for usability testing:

* time to plan: identify issues to focus on in testing, identify types of users to involve in testing, write a screening questionnaire to recruit users, write scenarios for users to follow
* cost of recruiting: time of in-house person or payment to a recruiting firm (often a good option)
* time of usability specialist to become familiar with the site and of team to do a dry run to see how scenarios work with the site
* cost of renting laboratory space or a portable lab or other videotaping equipment, if you choose tovideotape sessions.
* time of team to observe users (conduct the test)
* cost of paying participants or gifts for participants
* time to consider what the team saw and heard, identify problems, recommend solutions to those problems
* time to discuss changes with developers, write up report of findings and recommendations

Remember to budget for more than one usability test. Building usability into a Web site (or any product) is an iterative process. You will find it more valuable to use your budget to do a few small tests throughout development than to do just one large test at the end.

For more information, you can refer following URLs:

- http://www.usability.gov/pdfs/chapter18.pdf

- http://www.webcredible.co.uk/user-friendly-resources/web-usability/...
Madhumitha, Good Collection. Keep it up.
This testing is perform to checkout ease of user(customer) to use the application how easly one can use application

Usability testing is a wide area in software testing and it requires genuinely high level of knowledge of this field alongside a creative thinking ability. Individuals taking part in the usability testing are required to have aptitudes like persistence, capacity to listen to the advices, openness to welcome different ideas, and the most critical of them all is that they ought to have great perception abilities to spot and resolve the issues or problems.

Usability testing has the following benefits with respect to the customer or the end user :

  • Ensuring that the software is easy to use.

  • Ensuring the delivery of a quality software.

  • Easy acceptance of the software on the part of the users.

  • Usability Testing advantages :
    • Usability testing can help in finding potential bugs and potholes in the framework which for the most part are not obvious to developers and even escape the other types of testing.

    • On the off chance that legitimate resources (experienced and innovative testers) are utilized, usability testing can help in settling every one of the issues that the user may confront even before the software is at long last released to the user. This may bring about better execution and a standard software.

The testing aim is to recognize any usability problems, gather qualitative and quantitative data and establish the participant’s fulfillment with the product.

Usability testing is an essential element of quality assurance. It is the measure of a product’s potential to accomplish the goals of the user. Usability testing is a method by which users of a product are asked to perform certain tasks in an effort to measure the product’s ease-of-use, task time, and the user’s perception of the experience. This look as a unique usability practice because it provides direct input on how real users use the system. Usability testing measures human-usable products to fulfill the users purpose. 

Hello buddy,

I will try to answer one of the frequently asked questions in software testing, and that is "What is usability testing"? This is one type of validation where we test the system from user's prospect. The goal of this is to analyze the following areas:

Does the UI of the system meets all the user specifications or after using one time the user will never use the application again?

Here is the first thing we check is the application navigation system to ensure all the pages or forms can be navigated from one to another without any fault.

Next, we analyze if the look and feel, screen labels are correct and unambiguous.

Third, all the standard windows controls are present. This is very important for the usability perspective as most of the users are used to with all the standard windows or browser controls and if some of them are missing or in the wrong place they may face difficulty to navigate through the application.

The next major objective of the usability testing is to test the application in a lab environment which closely simulated the actual user environment. We also try to match the load of the production systems. Usually, production of data will be used during this testing to get a practical result from the application under test. This mitigates the risk of having surprised after prod deployment of the application.

Regards


Software Testing Companies In UK

Hey Madhumitha, 

Hope you are doing good.

Usability Testing- It is a method that is being used during functional testing services to evaluate how easy a website is to use. This is black box testing technique where the testers tests the ease with which the user interface can be used to confirm if the application or the product built is user-friendly or not.

Benefit of Usability Testing is to identify errors in the system early in development cycle so that product can be saved from failure. That is why; this testing is recommended during the initial design phase of SDLC.

Hope this information helps you...

Thanks
Anand

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