The ISO Norm 9241:210 defines the Human Centered Design (HCD) process as an approach to software development focusing on the users and their needs. This approach aims to make interactive systems usable, by ensuring their effectiveness and efficiency. The evaluating of the design against user requirements is the final step of the process and aims at assesing wether the product is usable for the target user group. This summer, we worked on defining a new service offering : the usability test.
What is a usability test?
A usability test is a series of driven interviews in which selected users (5 to 10 generally) are observed while performing tasks on a prototyped or developped product. A moderator conducts the interview and asks questions, while an observer takes notes about the participant's answers, remarks and behaviour. The usability findings are then agregated into a report, as well as recommendations for improvements. The report usually leads to refining the prototype before going on to developemt, or are added as improvement tickets to the backlog if the development has already begun.
Why should you do it?
Gathering customer feedback is often seen as a marketing activity to encourage engagement for the brand and, on the long term, boost sales. It is not something commonly associated with the software industry and ergonomy study. However, the greatest IT players bet more and more on the close relation with their users. Companies like Google, Spotify or Fitbit adopted long time ago the Human Centered Design process and have invested considerable amount of ressources in the collection of insights and feedback. This data is then leveraged in order to improve the product and make it stand out among the competitors. After years of business-driven functional decision, it appears that final users are the best able to provide insights about how the tool they use on daily basis should behave.
When is a usability test a suitable investment?
A usability test is a great opportunity to gather leverageable data about your product and empathize with your user group. It will allow the project team to prioritize improvements based on this data, rather than guessing and thus to create a product that people will enjoy using. Usability test can occure at any step of the development process, from the ideation phase with a prototype to the final polishing of the developped solution.
If you wish to know more about usability test or any other service we provide, please reach out to us!