5 Types of usability testing methods for websites and businesses

Types of usability testing methods

Usability testing is a process used to evaluate a product, which in this case is your website or online store, by testing it on real users. Participants are asked to complete a number of tasks, while researchers watch, listen, and take notes. The aim of the test is to identify any usability problems, collect data, and make recommendations to help overcome the issues identified. Usability testing isn’t a one-time thing. It should, therefore, be implemented to explore, assess, and compare the product.

There are several types of usability testing methods, and they can all be broken down into:

Moderated in-person: Here, tests are done in a specific location under specific conditions. The moderator guides the participant through the test while taking notes.

Moderated remote: These tests are basically similar to the ones above, except they’re done remotely. The moderator and the participants are in different locations and have to rely on screen sharing software.

Unmoderated remote: Instead of using moderators, these tests rely on online tools to help facilitate the sessions. They can come in handy if you want to collect a lot of data quickly, or you have dispersed users, or you’re looking for greater flexibility.

That being said, let’s take a look at some of the common usability testing methods out there:

1. Hallway Testing

This method uses random people to test a website, as opposed to choosing individuals who are trained and experienced in website testing. Hallway testing should be used to test a new website early on in product development.

2. Eye Tracking

Eye tracking tests are meant to determine where users are looking on your site, and in what order. Eye tracking software generates data using several useful features such as:

Heatmaps: To track where participants move their mice
Clickmaps: To track where they actually clip/tap
Scrollmaps: Where users scroll to and how long they take to look around

The deeper the colour of the above features, the more the amount of time a user spent at that particular section of the screen. These tests aren’t the most rewarding when it comes to UX usability testing methods, but they still offer enough data to help pinpoint navigation issues.

3. A/B Testing

A/B testing is used when there’s a decision to be made regarding two versions of one product. For instance, you can create a similar landing page to the existing one, but with some variations like bullets in place of a text box, ‘Click here’ vs. ‘Sign up’, altered images, and so on. You’ll then have to test both samples against the same participants, at different times of the day. Data is then collected to determine which one experiences the most engagement. This is considered one of the best usability testing methods for websites looking to improve conversion rate. Ensure you request feedback, asking users why they preferred one version over the other. Ultimately, this testing method helps you create the best version of your product.

4. Problem Discovery

The goal here is to uncover and fix as many problems as possible. A number of users are asked to attempt a few tasks, during which you can discover the most common issues. The problems are then corrected to make the interface much easier to use. Problem discovery is mostly conducted using a moderated approach, allowing the moderator to really dig into the participants’ actions and utterances. It can still be conducted through the unmoderated approach, only if the participants think loud and agree to have their screens and webcams recorded. Problem discovery studies should be undertaken throughout product development.

5. Survey Testing

Surveys can be sent out to massive groups of people, making them one of the most convenient ways to collect a great amount of information on UX. They contain questions that address the desires and needs of users. On the downside, this type of testing doesn’t allow for the direct observation of UX. That’s why the survey questions need to be carefully thought out. You also need to have a defined purpose for testing in place and recruit participants who represent your potential users so as to get reliable data.

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