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                    Usability testing
Usability Testing

It is a technique used to evaluate a product by testing it on users. This can be seen
as an irreplaceable usability practice, since it gives direct input on how real users use
the system.[1] This is in contrast with usability inspection methods where experts use
different methods to evaluate a user interface without involving users.

Usability testing focuses on measuring a human-made product's capacity to meet its
intended purpose. Examples of products that commonly benefit from usability testing
are foods, consumer products, web sites or web applications, computer interfaces,
documents, and devices. Usability testing measures the usability, or ease of use, of a
specific object or set of objects, whereas general human-computer interaction
studies attempt to formulate universal principles.

Goals of Usability Testing

Usability testing is a black-box testing technique. The aim is to observe people using
the product to discover errors and areas of improvement. Usability testing generally
involves measuring how well test subjects respond in four areas: efficiency,
accuracy, recall, and emotional response. The results of the first test can be treated
as a baseline or control measurement; all subsequent tests can then be compared to
the baseline to indicate improvement.

      Performance -- How much time, and how many steps, are required for people
       to complete basic tasks? (For example, find something to buy, create a new
       account, and order the item.)
      Accuracy -- How many mistakes did people make? (And were they fatal or
       recoverable with the right information?)
      Recall -- How much does the person remember afterwards or after periods of
      Emotional response -- How does the person feel about the tasks completed?
       Is the person confident, stressed? Would the user recommend this system to
       a friend?

What Usability Testing is not

Simply gathering opinions on an object or document is market research rather than
usability testing. Usability testing usually involves systematic observation under
controlled conditions to determine how well people can use the product. 1

Rather than showing users a rough draft and asking, "Do you understand this?",
usability testing involves watching people trying to use something for its intended
purpose. For example, when testing instructions for assembling a toy, the test
subjects should be given the instructions and a box of parts. Instruction phrasing,
illustration quality, and the toy's design all affect the assembly process.

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Setting up a usability test involves carefully creating a scenario, or realistic situation,
wherein the person performs a list of tasks using the product being tested while
observers watch and take notes. Several other test instruments such as scripted
instructions, paper prototypes, and pre- and post-test questionnaires are also used
to gather feedback on the product being tested. For example, to test the attachment
function of an e-mail program, a scenario would describe a situation where a person
needs to send an e-mail attachment, and ask him or her to undertake this task. The
aim is to observe how people function in a realistic manner, so that developers can
see problem areas, and what people like. Techniques popularly used to gather data
during a usability test include think aloud protocol and eye tracking.

Hallway Testing

Hallway testing (or Hall Intercept Testing) is a general methodology of usability
testing. Rather than using an in-house, trained group of testers, just five to six
random people, indicative of a cross-section of end users, are brought in to test the
product, or service. The name of the technique refers to the fact that the testers
should be random people who pass by in the hallway. One theory, as adopted from
Jakob Nielsen's research, is that 95% of usability problems can be discovered using
this technique.

Remote Testing

Remote usability testing (also known as unmoderated or asynchronous usability
testing) involves the use of a specially modified online survey, allowing the
quantification of user testing studies by providing the ability to generate large
sample sizes. Similar to an in-lab study, a remote usability test is task-based and the
platforms (UserZoom UZ or Keynote Webeffective) allows you capture clicks and task
times. Hence, for many large companies this allows you to understand the WHY
behind the visitors intents when visiting a website or mobile site. Additionally, this
style of user testing also provides an opportunity to segment feedback by
demographic, attitudinal and behavioural type. The tests are carried out in the user’s
own environment (rather than labs) helping further simulate real-life scenario
testing. This approach also provides a vehicle to easily solicit feedback from users in
remote areas.

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Usability Testing Basics

 Web development is almost always done under ridiculous time constraints, and
usability was seen as an advantageous but unnecessary step in developing a site.
Even when sites were tested, there was no time to iterate or incorporate learning
from the tests before launch.

Since then, the industry has come a long way. Usability testing is now recognized as
a necessary, if not integral, part of the development of web sites. As the industry has
matured, three simple truths have emerged:

   1. If customers find your site difficult to use, they will get frustrated and leave.

   2. It is not a good thing if customers leave your site.

   3. If you don't test your site with actual customers before launch, you can't
      ensure customers won't leave your site.

As these tenets become apparent, clients have begun to expect that their agencies
employ usability testing in the web development process. For the uninitiated, here
are some basics.

What is Usability Testing?

There are many ways to get feedback from customers about the usability of a site.
What is most commonly referred to as usability testing, however, is one-on-one
interviews with customers to explore their opinions about a site or site prototype.

This is how it generally works. A moderator sits down with a participant representing
the site's ultimate target (a customer or potential customer). The moderator
observes the participant using a version of the web site in development, usually as
the participant tries to accomplish tasks. The participant gives feedback on the
process, telling the moderator (and everyone watching, usually behind a mirror)
what he or she likes and dislikes about the site and what frustrations he or she has
while using the site. This information is used to revise the site in development or

Where does it fit in the process?

Usability testing comes in many flavors and should occur at different points in the
development process.

Explorative testing gathers input from participants in the early stages of site
development. Based on the experience and opinions of target users, the
development team can decide the appropriate direction for the site's look and feel,
navigation, and functionality.

Assessment testing occurs when the site is close to launch. Here you can get
feedback on issues that might present huge problems for users but are relatively
simple to fix.

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Evaluation testing can be useful to validate the success of a site subsequent to
launch. A site can be scored and compared to competitors, and this scorecard can be
used to evaluate the project's success.

How do I learn more?

There are a number of places on the web where you can learn more. The Usability
Special Interest Group provides copious resources to help develop an in-house
capability. The Usability Professionals' Association is a hub for usability conferences,
events, and information about usability best practices.

As web devices proliferate and computing diverges to new platforms, usability will
become even more important. Testing web pages is only the beginning; no matter
what role you play in the Internet industry, it's smart to start learning about usability
testing now.

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Description: usability testing document for testers and it describes usability testing guidelines.