1. What is usability testing?
  2. Usability testing is used to determine how 'usable' the interface or product in question is for its intended audience. Through the use of goal-oriented questions, the designers can determine what works and what does not work by testing the interface before releasing it to the public.

    Benefits: Determining what works and what does not

  3. Why is usability testing important?
  4. The process of performing a usability test and getting feedback helps to inform the designers whether or not their interface is intuitive or confusing.

    Benefits: Saving time and resources

  5. Who should be involved in the usability test?
  6. Test the interface with the audience it is intended for to get the best type of feedback regarding its ease of use.

    Benefits: Accurate and useful responses from the source

  7. When is a good time to perform a usability test?
  8. The short answer: Continuously. Perform usability tests frequently throughout the creation process to get feedback often and make changes as you go along. What may be considered the best design from the designers point-of-view may not be the best design for the intended audience.

    Benefits: Frequent feedback to make changes as needed throughout the creation process

  9. How does a usability test work?
  10. Usability testing focuses on a specific goal or task. The tester will give the testee a task to accomplish on the interface and then ask a series of questions related to that task.

What not to do

As the tester:

Ask questions that can be answered with 'yes' or 'no'.

Ask questions about how the interface looks.

Ask only for feedback, comments, or concerns on the interface as a whole.

As the testee:

Answer questions with 'yes' or 'no'.

Focus on how the site looks and comment on its aesthetics.

Give feedback unrelated to the provided questions or task.

What to do

As the tester:

Provide the test-taker with a goal or task.

Ask questions relating to the task and their ability or inability to complete it.

Make sure the questions are clear and allow for feedback with substance.

As the testee:

Write clear and specific responses.

Perform the task given while keeping the interface's usability in-mind.

Remember that the test is about how intuitive the design is; how it works.

Available Resources

Try it out!

Visit the following website: www.mariahgwin.com.

Follow the instructions for the sample usability test below

Create a goal for your users:

User Goal: Locate and browse the displayed projects.

Create a list of questions for your users to respond to with the interface:

1. What platform are you using? (i.e. Mobile)

2. What do you do to get to the projects?

and so on...

Remember to ask questions that provide the opportunity for valuable feedback. Do not ask questions that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no."

Create your own usability test with a goal and list of questions for your users. You can test the usability of already-existing projects, though it is most ideal for projects in-the-making!

Here is the goal for you all now: Pick a project you have created or are creating, then develop and perform a usability test for that project.

Things to remember

Usability testing is not about how the interface looks.

Usability testing is about how the interface works.