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usability testing and its methods

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 07:50

Dear readers, meet Tatiana Pobylovskaya. Tatiana is a specialist in software testing, and she's decided to share her rich experience with you. Here we present an article of her - Usability testing and its methods. Enjoy reading! usability testing

What is usability testing?

Let’s define what usability testing is. There are some determinations. Here is one of them.

Usability testing is an experiment performed to determine how well people can use some artificial object (such as a Web page, user interface or device) for its intended use, i.e. usability testing measures the usability of an object.

Usability testing focuses on a specific object or a small set of objects, while the studies of human-computer interaction in general formulate universal principles.

Key direction of ​​usability testing – identification and elimination of barriers in a product, hindering the objectives of users. The majority of developers design interfaces and functionality without the involvement of empathy (the ability to put yourself in another person’s position), which leads to the creation of applications impractical for the end user and not performing their tasks.

There is another determination of usability testing.

Usability testing – the valuation method of convenience of a product in usage, based on the involvement of users as testers, and the summation of the conclusions derived from them. Testing is conducted with the participation of several people from the audience, the so-called respondents. For carrying out of testing there are enough 4-6 persons. There is an 80/20 rule, which states that 20% of users give 80% of the results. Therefore, this number of respondents is the most efficient in terms of time and cost savings.

Methods of usability testing

How to define, whether the application is useful for majority of users? Everyone has their own preferences, and what is pleasant to one, doesn’t always mean being pleasant to another. Are there any universal criteria suitable to evaluate almost any application? Usability and convenience are studied by means of a large number of special Technologies:

  • Card Sorting
  • Contextual Inquiry
  • Checklists
  • Prototyping
  • Surveys
  • Questionnaires
  • Pluralistic Walkthroughs
  • Self-Reporting Logs
  • Thinking Aloud Protocol
  • Focus Groups
  • Heuristic Evaluation
  • Feature Inspection
  • Let’s start to discuss them.
  • Card sorting

Card SortingCard sorting is a classification method, where users sort various elements of an application in several categories. For carrying out of card sorting there is a parameter list that is expected to subject classification, and then each of these parameters is written on a separate card. Cards are presented to users, who are instructed to group them in the most logical, by their opinion, way. The resulting card sorting information is used to organize the user interface. For more details look card sorting.

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