The leading software development companies always run usability tests for their products before launching them. They do so to save time, money as well as deliver consistently successful software to the market.
Creating anything new requires a lot of testing and with software, the testing phase irons out bugs, as well as enables the business to deliver consistently functional, helpful and forward-thinking software.
In this article, we dig a little deeper for the nerds and curious among us, explaining why the usability test is vitally important in the software development life cycle and non-commercial, i.e. the beta testing is free.
How to Run Usability Tests
First, let’s answer the question “What is usability?” and why you should invest time and effort into testing it. This term characterizes the interaction between the product and its target audience.
Customers assess whether they find your software intuitive, useful, up-to-date and worth its price.
To run a test, you need to invite people to your office and ask them to work with your application in real-time.
After the test, you will gather their impartial feedback that will include quantitative metrics such as the amount of time spent, the number of failures detected and so on. However, what is more important, you will contemplate their behavior while they are getting acquainted with your product and that can be established with answers to these questions:
- How long does it take them to figure out how it functions?
- Do they look happy, stressed or perplexed?
- How often do they feel the urge to ask you a question?
These questions are ‘qualitative’, and they are just as important as the ‘quantitative’ metrics in your useability testing.
After you analyze the results of the testing, you should implement opportune changes to your product so that the audience would perceive it as “perfect”.
Below, you will find 4 reasons why usability tests are momentous to software development and why you should consider incorporating them.
Why Software Development Needs Usability Tests
It Is Cost-Efficient
Every hour of the developers’ work costs money. Once a bug is detected, you need to step back and resolve it. The later you reveal the error, the more expensive it would be to eliminate it. According to the latest trends in software testing, you should try to identify the potential weak points before starting to assemble the product. Avoiding faults is more budget-friendly than fixing them.
If you think the usability testing process is pricey, you are mistaken. In most cases, it is enough to invite five people to participate in one round to reveal the primary faults and merits of your product. Projects of any scale and budget can afford this procedure. Inviting ten or more individuals is not recommended because the experiment would lose its focus.
If Saves Your Energy
The second answer to the question “What is the purpose of a usability test?” is to give you peace of mind. When you allow people to preliminarily examine your product, you will get to know which of its functions they value above all and how you can make the product seem even more appealing to them.
Judging by the factual data and feedback, you can prioritize your development decisions and minimize the risks of “wrong guessing”. From the onset, you should be able to focus on the features that your customers need and avoid wasting effort on hit-or-miss solutions.
Sometimes, the initial developer’s vision of the product is not clear enough. You might fail to understand the full potential of the software that you are about to create. The customers might perceive its purpose and capabilities differently than you.
According to the statistics, up to ⅔ of all software features end up being hardly ever used! Why should you build them at all, then? Timely interaction with your audience will help you to realize whether your initial concept is feasible to execute and which changes you need to introduce.
Besides, you should be able to set more accurate timelines and cost estimates, outline a detailed and realistic roadmap. The entire workflow will be rationally streamlined across teams, saving hundreds of precious hours.
You Can Estimate the Success of Your Product on the Market
The benefits of usability testing refer not exclusively to the functionality of your software but its commercial achievements as well. You will see how eagerly the market will embrace your product and how readily the customers will spend funds on it. If you neglect the test and try to sell an application that abounds with bugs, sales will never take off.
The first batch of clients will reveal multiple errors and tell the world about them. After you fix the problem, your software might start to function seamlessly — yet it would be too late. Both your product and your development team will have a bad reputation.
Why is usability testing important? Because it enables you to check whether your software meets the expectations of the market. People will confirm that your solution is functional, intuitive, handy and valuable. You will be able to objectively assess its potential adoption rate and your approximate revenue.
It Gives You a Competitive Edge
Usability testing relies not on guesswork but hard data. The information that you receive might differ from the facts and numbers that you collected during the initial research (which you definitely conducted before conceiving your application). One of the missions of testing is to help you validate your product plan based on real evidence and hard data.
If you make good use of usability testing, your software will allow customers to achieve their goals quicker and more efficiently if compared to rival apps. Consequently, your sales will grow, and you will receive a larger profit.
Now, you should know the answer to the question “What is usability testing?” and how software developers can benefit from it.
The earlier you implement this approach to your casual workflow, the more you will gain in cost savings and resources. Through setting out a test plan in advance, you will determine potential usability issues so you can perfect the software before it’s released into production.