We ask usability expert, Oli Gardner, co-founder and Director of Marketing at Unbounce, about the different types of usability testing methods that can be used, as well as the benefits of each. Read on for some valuable tips on how to choose the right method.
What different types of usability testing can be done and what are the benefits of each kind?
There are a few ways you can conduct a usability test.
Task based: This is probably the most common approach, where you recruit test participants based on your target demographic and have them complete a series of important tasks on your site that you’ve established as pain points. Usually 6 people is enough.
The benefits of this approach are that you can have a well constructed set-up, usually with some type of video screen capture software to show stakeholders the results. You can also make fixes based on the lessons learned and repeat the tests with a fresh set of people and see if the time and ease to complete the tasks improves.
In-context observational: This is where you actually pay a visit to a real customers home or office to observe how they use your product day to day. In this case you don’t ask them to do anything, you essentially ask them to pretend as if you’re not there and behave as naturally as they can.
The benefits of this are that you get to see exactly how they use your product. Are they using workarounds to problems they face? Do they spend way longer than you’d expect on certain tasks because it’s not usable enough? You will always come away from these sessions surprised. And as an extra benefit, you make your customers feel really special for being involved in your process.
The 5 second rule: This is based on the impatience of internet visitors. Most will only give your site or landing page 5 to 10 seconds of attention before leaving if your messaging isn’t clear or relevant enough. What you can do is take someone unfamiliar with your brand, sit them in front of a computer, flash your page up in front of them for 5 seconds and take it down again. Then simply ask them one question, ‘What was that page about?’
The benefits of this is that it’s really quick and dirty. You can even use a printout of a screen and show it to a stranger on the street if you’re adventurous enough. And you’ll learn instantly about the clarity of your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), which is usually your main page headline. If people can’t answer your question to your satisfaction, then work on your messaging and try again. Add, rinse, repeat.
The 6 foot test: This is a technique used to see how clear your page designs are. Stick a screenshot of your page on the wall and have a bunch of people take turns looking at it and ask them what stands out the most to them. What you want them to point out is your primary call to action – the conversion goal of your page.
The benefit is you can use almost anyone for this, but ideally people that haven’t seen the page before.