How to : Usability Test : Getting Design Teams Onboard

The best way to do usability studies is to do it yourself. By conducting your own quick and dirty usability studies, design teams can get feedback faster, easier, and more affordably than hiring an outside professional.

How Can Design Teams Start Testing On Their Own?

If you’ve never conducted a test, start right away. Try a test next week; it’s not as complicated as it may seem. At its core, a usability test involves putting a person in front of your product and watching what they do. Your goal is not to implement the scientific method as you elaborately lay out a treatise on the usability of your product – just to observe how well users can accomplish their desired tasks with it.

Time and time again I’ve seen immediate results from such an approach. Learning how to run internal usability tests will not only save a company money, but will instill a “design for usability” mentality into your design team and, hopefully, the organization as a whole.

So instead of hiring an outside professional to do usability testing for you, try to find one who will act as your coach and guide instead. In no time you’ll be up and running with a regular testing plan that will benefit you far longer than the immediate project. Your design team will be more self-sufficient as a result.

Running a usability test will, amongst other things, help you to:

Identify if users are able to complete specific tasks successfully;
Establish how efficiently users can undertake predetermined tasks; and
Pinpoint changes to the design that might need to be made to address any shortcomings to improve performance.

In addition to these objective findings:

Does the product work effectively?
Running a usability test helps you to make subjective findings: Do users enjoy using the product?