Creating an intuitive application, website or mobile app takes time. What may seem intuitive for one person, may not be for another. On the other hand, a poor user experience is one of the main reasons why customers choose a competing application. Through usability testing, developers improve the usability of their application and give their product the finishing touches to achieve high customer satisfaction and acceptance.
What Is a Usability Test?
Usability testing involves putting together a sample of users to determine how easy something is to use. In a typical usability test, users are asked to complete various tasks within a certain time frame. If several users encounter the same type of difficulty during the test, this tells the developers that changes should be made to improve the usability. The tasks are many and varied. They can include searching for functional errors ("bugs") or help identify how the use of the test simplifies certain processes such as buying a product from a web shop ("user experience"). Bugs usually occur at the code level. A new feature is programmed and does not harmonize with the existing ones as expected. In addition, web and mobile applications have the complication that browsers from different manufacturers have their peculiarities and do not always interpret web elements in the same way. What is displayed correctly in the browser on a desktop PC does not necessarily apply to the customer's smartphone.
Why Do We Need Usability Testing?
Usability testing offers a variety of benefits both for future users of a product and for the company or developers who develop that product. Some of these are:
- Time saving for both the company and the users
- Provides a better user experience
- Provides insight into user satisfaction with the product
- Identifies problem areas within the product that might otherwise not have been obvious
- Offers an unbiased examination of the product
The return on investment (ROI) of a product that provides an excellent user experience can be enormous. For example, according to Forbes, in Amazon's first year, Jeff Bezos invested 100 times more in the usability of Amazon services than in advertising. Today, Amazon is one of the largest companies in the world.
What Is the Challenge in Usability Testing?
As the name implies, users are needed for the tests, usually many users, since a great diversity of testers synthesizes the subjective opinion and perception of the testers and gives clear recommendations with regard to product optimization. However, the process is time-consuming and cost-intensive, because it is manually and individually tailored to the individual tester or tester group as in the case of A/B Testing. It is suitable for testing fundamental or significant changes to the product, but does not scale in any way when it comes to testing new, incremental features. This is usually just a matter of checking whether the new feature does what it is supposed to do - also called Functional Testing
- and whether the interaction with the existing features harmonizes - also called Regressions Testing
Automation of tests is a game changer. Simply put, automated testing is the process of automating the manual testing of web or mobile applications. Test automation is ideal for scaling a wide range of functional and regression tests, especially on different devices and browsers. Usually, the automated test is programmed once and can be run on different devices and browsers in parallel. A manual tester, on the other hand, repeats the process manually on each device and for each browser, which results in exponential time expenditure and is poorly amortised. For web shops, mobile applications or IoT devices with user interfaces that provide common functionalities, such a procedure scales poorly.
Automated vs. manual usability testing
We at ditCraft have specialized in test automation. We help our customers with our experience to integrate the advantages of test automation into the agile development environment. In particular we help our customers to combine the advantages of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) with Continuous Testing (CT). This allows effective new features to be released on the product, which are automatically tested for usability bugs, and gives the developers a good feeling that the feature will deliver what the customer wants, even if there is not much time left for testing. The combination of CI/CD and Continuous Testing is particularly beneficial for smaller teams. Once the CI/CD/CT infrastructure has been set up and a suite of test programs has been developed, the costs for maintenance are negligible. DitCraft helps with its experience in the design and implementation of the infrastructure, provides programmers for the tests as well as DevOps for the development of a CI/CD pipeline, and ensures a permanent reduction of the expenses for software quality assurance.