A Comprehensive Guide on Fundamentals of User Testing

0 15 min read Mobile App Development, Quality Assurance, UI/UX


Tech & Business

It only requires five users to identify 85% of your product’s interface problems. Yes, you heard it right. That’s how effective user testing is in providing you with insights about your product and helping you address its problems.

The fundamental reason for user testing is to improve user experience and better comprehend your targeted audience. All of the user testing methods are designed to understand your user’s behavior and devise strategies to retain users in the best way possible.

This article will discuss the fundamentals of user testing, its benefits, types, and other related aspects.

What Is User Testing?

User testing refers to a process by which real users test out the interface of an app, product, or website. Its purpose is to analyze the usability of your product to evaluate whether it’s ready for your targeted users.

For the best possible result, you should let your testers play around with your product however they want. This helps you make sure that it’s intuitive and compatible enough to be used by first-time users.

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Schedule a free consultation with Iterators today. We’d be happy to help you find the right software solution to help your company.

Benefits of User Testing

The right user testing lets your team identify problems before real users can point them out. The best part is that when these issues are identified early, they’re inexpensive and less time-consuming.

But is that all? Let’s dive into the benefits of user testing:

1. Saves Time and Resources

User testing helps you ensure that your app functions fully and all essential features are easily accessible. When you invest in user testing, you make sure that your project will be successful.

This is done by immediately identifying and addressing flaws in your product’s user journey early in the prototyping process.

By resolving flaws early on, you save considerable time and effort in your project management. Plus, solving problems initially requires fewer resources, helping you to save time and reduce operational costs.

And with user insights, you can prevent expensive development errors in your product management while resolving your users’ problems.

2. Improves Your Conversion Rates

successful corporate innovation

Were you aware that improving your conversion rate is easier than increasing your traffic? You may already be running A/B tests, but you must be guided appropriately by honest user feedback to ensure all your user tests succeed.

User testing will reveal the aspects of your design that your target audience may be uncomfortable with and highlight areas needing improvement. You can consider user testing an ideal partner for your A/B testing. This is because it provides accurate, relevant insights into your users’ expectations.

Adequately understanding user behavior and changing your design will help you make a lasting impact and improve your conversion rate.

3. Increases Customer Retention

Nowadays, people expect the best user experiences whenever they start using a new startup product or a website. Whenever your users find your design challenging or unable to complete any task they expected to do, they quickly look towards your competitors.

The worst part is that if your customers have an unsatisfactory experience, they’re less likely to return. They wouldn’t even recommend your product or website to their friends and family.

However, when you integrate user input into your design process, you can expect accurate feedback from your audience.

4. Eliminates Potential Bugs and Security Risks

User testing not only enhances your user experience but also enables you to reduce potential security risks. How?

Here’s the thing: users are more exploratory when they go through your product since they don’t have any prior knowledge. So, they have more chances of revealing your product’s hidden flaws and security risks.

This is especially beneficial if you’re making fintech products. These products are most targeted by hackers, with 2.5 times more cyberattacks in the first quarter of 2022. Other industries, such as healthcare, may also witness similar increases in data breaches.

User Testing vs. Usability Testing

user testing vs usability testing

When we talk about user testing, we may confuse it with other forms of testing, primarily usability testing. Have you ever thought about how user testing differs from usability testing? If not, we’ll briefly overview the main differences between the two.

User testing refers to understanding the user’s needs and validating the data accordingly. On the other hand, usability testing identifies whether your customers can use your product or not.

In short, user testing is aligned toward functionality, whereas usability testing is more inclined toward user behavior.

Plus, user testing is all about if people need the solution you’re working on, allowing you to comprehend who your target audience is. However, usability testing is about comprehending whether your product is usable in practice.

Another primary difference lies in the use phase. User testing is done at the beginning of the product life cycle or when you get an idea for your product. On the contrary, usability testing is done once your product’s design or prototype is made.

Types of User Testing

Different factors, such as your target audience, available resources, and end goals, influence the user testing you go for. Let’s look at some of the common types of user testing so you can evaluate which one is the best fit for you:

1. In-Depth Interviews

In-depth interviews (IDI) refer to direct engagement with individual users. This type of user testing is considered a qualitative data collection method and means asking users different questions according to their responses.

IDIs require you to be skilled at data collection methods to ensure that your users are comfortable sharing information with you. This is to make sure that the quality of the data collected is thorough and accurate.

2. Surveys

SUS Survey
System Usability Scale (SUS) Survey

Surveys complement your usability research efforts and can help you determine different insights into your products according to your users. The questions you ask in the survey can help you understand your user’s behavior and how different aspects, such as demographics, relate to your product.

Some of the questions which you may include in your survey about user testing could include:

  • Why did you start using our product, and what do you expect to get from it?
  • Is there any relation between your profession and the product you use?
  • Do you have any skills that help you use our product?
  • What errors did you find in our product, and how can we improve them?

Surveys can help you understand the pain points of your products. Questions such as “Which areas do you struggle with the most?” or “What difficulties do you face while using our product?” can give you the direction on where to set your focus on the user test.

You can also use surveys to acquire background information about your participants, such as demographics, background, and hobbies. This can assist you in better interpreting their responses.

3. Audience Sourcing

Audience sourcing is the first-party data source you can use to create user-testing data segments. For instance, you could create an audience source for the people who use your product, visit your website, or watch your product videos.

Initially, you can collect demographic information and use filters to source your audience. Once you set up these filters, only users who meet the demographic criteria can take the user test. The primary filters you could consider include income, age, location, and gender.

In the long run, you could use advanced demographic filters to source your audience further. These filters include employment status, company size, designation, expertise, social networks, ethnic background, and language.

Filters like language will indicate what language your users speak and write. Your user testing tasks must be written in that specific language if you want the best results from your respective users.

4. Eye Tracking

Eye tracking evaluates where your user is looking when viewing your products. It helps you understand what parts, images, or designs your user looks at and how long.

Users generally start at the top left corner of the screen and go across the top before moving down to the next line. This is also known as the “F” pattern.

By focusing on the specific areas in the “F” pattern, you can first optimize high-value areas of your product page. This helps to improve the areas where your user mainly looks and ultimately improves the user experience.

5. A/B Testing

A/B testing evaluates which version of your product is better: version A or version B. This testing is done on the prototype designs of your products to analyze which version is best suited for your users.

For an efficient A/B test, keep the comparisons as simple as possible. You shouldn’t compare completely different versions of your product because you would have no idea what factors made a difference.

Instead, you can test two locations of CTA buttons, different header styles, different fonts, and so on.

Best Practices for Conducting User Testing

Do you believe that your user testing is not as effective as you expected it to be? User testing may not be useful if you use the wrong strategies.

So, let’s look at some practices that can help you achieve better results with user testing:

1. Test in the Early Stages

The earlier you test, the easier it’s to make changes and improve the impact user testing will have on the quality of your product.

Often, companies decide to make changes when releasing the product to the market. If you invest early and avoid problems from happening in the initial stages, you’ll save considerable time later.

You don’t even need to wait for a full-fledged prototype. Instead, you can start testing once you have your product idea. This will help you nip problems in the bud before they cause issues later on for your users.

2. Thoughtfully Set Up Tasks

You must define which tasks you’ll require to test to answer your questions about the test. Your goal should be not to test your product functionality but rather to test the user experience related to that functionality.

When setting up tasks for user testing, make them actionable and realistic. Create a particular part of your products that you want to test, such as starting your product, configuring it, or completing a checkout.

Remember to add only a few tasks, as conducting and evaluating tests consumes much time. Instead, you can set essential tasks for your products and allow the users to complete them according to their priorities.

Plus, you should be crystal clear about the goal of each task. You don’t need to share your goals with the participants. They’re only meant for evaluation purposes.

3. Select Representative Users

mobile app design user personas

When selecting the people for user testing, they should represent your target audience. Evaluating people using your product is useless if they don’t match your target audience.

You may recruit people based on your goals for user testing. You can start selecting people as soon as you know what to test. Remember that recruiting is quite challenging, and you must go the extra mile to find the right people to represent your target audience.

Validating Ideas with Potential Users with User Testing

Your user tests allow you to collect the feed of your prospects when they complete all your given tasks and answer questions. Your questions and tasks are written in a way that addresses the challenging aspects of your product.

Plus, user testing helps you learn whether your users understand the basic ideas behind your design. It also ensures that they understand the concept of your product during the initial stages of the design process.

And when a user completes the test, you get the appropriate feedback which can help you validate your ideas accordingly. Let’s take a look at several tests you can use:

1. Mom Test

user testing the mom test book

The mom test, created by Rob Fitzpatrick in his book “The Mom Test“, helps you understand what your customers want and give them exactly what they need. And the first aspect of the test is to ask the right questions, e.g., about user behavior and the motivation behind it.

Wrong or inaccurate questions would ask about the opinion of the users.

According to the mom test, you must ask about the life of your customers rather than their ideas. You need to ask specific questions from users about their past, which will help you acquire better insights about your product.

Another key takeaway from the mom test is to talk less and listen more. Don’t just converse about your product; instead, ask questions and focus on listening more. This will help you understand how users look at your product and how their perception can be improved.

2. Foundations TCR

The Foundation TCR program is designed to provide your users with the skills required to complete user testing expertly. This program will help your user gain confidence in completing the user tests and certify users skilled in using different features within your product.

When you only allow certified people to conduct your user tests, it’ll help you gain better results for how your product works. This is because these people are well-versed in the basics of your product and analyze different aspects more thoroughly.

In short, they reflect how a real user would go through the app and identify any challenges they might face.

Tools and Platforms for User Testing

You can use many tools and platforms for user testing. Let’s look at some of the best tools below:

1. Instapanel

Instapanel is a video research platform that merges quantitative surveys with qualitative video responses for concept testing and user evaluation. It features advertising testing, which predicts the chances of success of a campaign or advert before it becomes live.

The platform uses different advertising testing methods, including pre-test surveys, A/B testing, biometrics, and qualitative testing. All of these different tests evaluate whether the advertisement strategies meet the objectives of your target audience or not.

2. UserTesting.com

UserTesting.com is another outstanding platform that can help you with different aspects of user testing. It starts with assisting you in planning a test, creating objectives, writing meaningful questions, and setting up actionable tasks.

The best part about this platform is the UserTesting Contributor Network, which gives you access to a global group of test contributors. The contributors perform a thorough analysis of your product and help you evaluate how a real user might use your product.

After that, you can use the Invite Network to create and launch the test with any user at any given time. And once that’s done, you can make use of the Custom Network to get feedback from your partners, customers, and employees about your product.

So, the platform has all the resources to guide you in launching different tests, including desktop, mobile websites, apps, and prototype tests.

3. Experience Suite (Feedback Loop)

The idea of Experience Suite (previously known as Feedback Loop) is quite simple to “test before you invest.” Their platform is enriched with tests that real users solve to ensure that your product quality is accurately evaluated.

Plus, they help you in concept testing to ensure your product is a market fit and give you access to data from real targeted consumers.

Common Mistakes in User Testing

user testing common mistakes

When conducting user testing, people make common mistakes and don’t realize them until it’s too late. Are you making these same mistakes? Let’s go through a few:

1. Writing or Asking Leading Questions

When doing a user test, it’s essential to refrain from writing any questions that may lead to the answer you have already thought of in your mind about your product.

Similarly, in a user test interview, you shouldn’t ask questions that plant answers in the mind of your users. Instead, your questions should show interest and not criticize or judge the users.

You should also let the user lead the answer to your questions so you get a genuine response about your product.

2. Talking More and Listening Less

Talking more and listening less is one of the primary mistakes people make during user test interviews. Remember, your role as a test facilitator is only to talk when needed and let the user talk in detail about your product.

This ensures that you aren’t enforcing your own opinions on the users but rather analyzing how your test users observe your product with complete authenticity.

3. Defending Your Product Design Options

Some people may not find your product designs suitable or convenient during user testing. In this scenario, many people, especially from the development team, start to argue with the test users about their design choices. This reduces the accuracy of user tests.

You’ll likely acquire constructive insights about your product when you allow the test user to thoroughly criticize your design options without influencing them. Plus, you must realize that no matter how much you fall in love with your design, it’s only acceptable when real users validate it.

The Bottom Line

User testing is of undeniable importance, and it directly relates to the success of your product in the consumer market. It helps you identify the concerns and issues with your product in the initial stages so you can address them before it becomes a problem later on.

Plus, it’s the best way to ensure your product is well-aligned with your target audience while ensuring it functions fully.

When you conduct user testing, choosing the users who resonate with your targeted audience is essential. This will help you better evaluate your product and help you comprehend what issues a real user may find in your product.

So, if done correctly, user testing could be your means to a successful product that fits well with your users.

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