What Is User Testing, and How to Use It to Design a Better Product

User testing, aka design validation and usability testing, is a process of testing products or services by allowing actual users to try them and give relevant feedback. For a UX design agency, this feedback can be user experience, usage ease or difficulty, and user likes or dislikes. This process helps product designers deeply understand user concerns and usability challenges, enabling them to correct the issues on time.

User testing is one of the most important dimensions of a designer’s work. Proper testing transcends flashy, stunning visuals and seeks to solve problems effectively. It gives designers the best tool for understanding what actually works and doesn’t.

So, how do you conduct user testing and use it to enhance your product design? Which methods should you use, and which mistakes must you avoid to succeed? Read on for answers to these questions and more.

Why Is User Testing Important?

One of designers’ biggest challenges is that they don’t use their products. It feels like a coffin maker who never uses his products! Fortunately, a user-centric designer can utilize user testing to see how users interact with their products and services in a real-world setting.

User testing helps product developers detect products’ hidden problems. Modern tech gives a designer different tools and ways to conduct testing. They might use online tools or conduct in-person tests. Let’s proceed and examine some of the top methods of testing products.

User Testing Methods

You can conduct user testing using various techniques. Here are the top approaches to testing products.

Individual In-Depth Interviews

‍This approach gives a product developer a perfect way of soliciting personalized responses from target individuals. Its personalized nature allows a tester to handle one person at a time, and it takes the longest time to complete. It requires a competent person to ask relevant questions and follow your script without influencing expected answers.

Remote User Testing

This approach tests users from different geographical locations. It creates an easy setting for participants because they participate in the testing independently in their chosen environments. This method makes it easy for product designers to align their products with various users’ needs.

A/B Testing

With this method, a web designer creates two identical pages of a particular website or program with subtle differences. For instance, they might rephrase the CTAs to know which version works best with users and serves them effectively.

Eye Movement Tracking

This technique lets website designers use software to see where many users focus their eyes on websites while navigating. The software helps testers understand the elements that interest people the most. It focuses on where a designer wants people to look while completing tasks. It’s one of the best ways of understanding how well web developers create intuitive designs.

Focus Groups

This method uses small user groups and moderates discussions between them. The conversations let testers gather immediate responses from real users to gauge how they perceive products and their desired changes.

How to Conduct User Testing

So, how do you use user testing to design better products? Here are the steps to take to conduct successful user testing.

  • Select the correct participants

Select the correct target audience you wish to test to get accurate responses about how actual users react to your creations.

  • Choose a testing method

After defining and choosing your participants, choose a suitable testing method. Your chosen technique significantly affects your test’s success. Whether or not you will moderate your testing, this stage must favorably affect your overall testing plan. For instance, focus groups and in-depth interviews are the best approaches to gathering user opinions on navigating a new app.

  • Draw a plan

You need a written plan because user tasting takes a lot of work. The plan must include what you want to test, how to do it, and who will conduct the testing.

  • Prepare a conducive testing environment

An ideal testing environment can be physical or virtual. You may create the necessary apps or accounts. Ensure the hardware is working correctly before testing the apps.

  • Write a script

Write clear and easy-to-follow instructions your participants will follow during the trials.

  • Conduct the test

This stage involves testing your chosen users’ interaction with your services or products. Monitor and write notes to help you analyze the results later.

  • Analyze testing results

Here, you examine your gathered responses and make the necessary changes.

Mistakes to Avoid in User Testing

Testing users can be challenging, and mistakes can occur. Here are the top blunders to avoid in your user testing, plus their remedies.

  1. Failing to Define the Test Goals. Starting the testing without defining your test goals is a recipe for failure. So, determine what you want to learn from users and the specific areas you wish to focus on. Otherwise, evaluation of your test results will be difficult.
  2. Insufficient Test Environment Preparation. Failure to prepare the trial environment to resemble the actual setting in which the product is used may bring your testing efforts to naught. Use the actual product or service and create a realistic mock-up to prevent this blunder.
  3. Recruiting the Wrong Users. The wrong user selection will give you faulty results. For instance, you can’t select an “analog” demographic that doesn’t use websites to test a webpage feature.
  4. Unclear Instructions. Ambiguity is a clear path to failure. Instruct users clearly on what you expect them to do and how long the test takes. If possible, provide written or video tutorials on using the service or product you want to test.
  5. Failing to Observe the Users. Not observing users keenly and not noting their actions and reactions can undermine the test. Also, don’t interrupt users unless it’s necessary.
  6. Asking the Wrong Questions. Don’t ask irrelevant questions because you will get the wrong feedback, producing wrong conclusions.
  7. Failing to Analyze the Results. Improper user feedback analysis means you won’t understand what your respondents shared. You won’t make the needed improvements based on data that doesn’t make sense. 

Conclusion

There you go with everything you need to learn about user testing for product design improvement. The ball is in your court to leverage these insights in your next project.

Huynh Nguyen

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