Don Norman, a cognitive psychologist, and designer, coined the term “user experience” in the 1990s. Interestingly, despite the future-Esque nomer, the concept has ancient origins dating back to 4000 BC Chinese philosophy and 500 BC Ancient Greece. Today, the Global User Experience market is worth around USD 465 million and is expected to outgrow itself to over USD 1346 million in 2028.
As you can see, this looks like a very lucrative and highly competitive field. But what is user experience, and how does usability testing affect it?
User experience, or UX, is the sum of the entire end-user/s interaction with a business and its services or products. It goes beyond giving what the customers think and says they want and need and instead covers every aspect and facet of the user’s experience with your website or product. In other words, if you find out how people feel about using your offering and for what purpose or how they think of it (and whether or not they enjoy it), you always go back and look at user experience.
Its power lies in its ability to influence your product’s success or failure, whether it be a website or an application. For example, a good user experience invites users to keep using your product, return to your product after trying something else and even advocate for you. On the other hand, a poor user experience will only turn past, current, and future users AWAY from doing business with you.
A fast-evolving technology is all good until we face the numerous problems that come with it. UX has always been about solving problems, and its user-centered approach has produced accurate, relevant, and life-changing results.
Look at Christopher Latham Sholes’ QWERTY Keyboard. This 1867 invention solved the ever-annoying letter jamming and typing issues. But it took years and years of trial and error, observing typing workflow flaws and optimal placement of letters.
Besides the QWERTY keyboard, Doug Engelbart’s mouse and XEROX PARC’S Graphical User Interface. These modern UX breakthroughs prove that from the very beginning, people invested in UX because it served humanity’s need to collaborate and adapt. Here are some of the benefits we’ve been enjoying because of consistent changes and developments in UX:
UX has helped solve problems in the past and successfully tackle today’s share because it provides a deeper understanding of the issues that need solving. How users interact with products or services helps us gather information and valuable insight into different problems and merits of what businesses offer today. In addition, it puts things into perspective by considering multiple views from other individuals with various pain points and needs.
- Identifying UX problems
- Clarfiying the problem
- Using analytics
- Leveraging Feedback
With UX solving everyday problems, it doesn’t surprise that it has improved our quality of life over the years. We’ve come a long way from the viewpoint that more is better. Today, less is more, and UX has proven it by evolving into an industry that puts value in removing clutter. In addition, modern UX advances have helped reduce stress in everyday tasks.
Today, we have a lot of products that are easier for the eye. We’re moving away from an intricate UX design to removing any text or visuals distracting from the product’s purpose. And many developers are finding value in emphasizing primary features instead of secondary ones.
- Making sure the product is convenient to use.
- Ensuring that the product provides valuable content and solutions.
- Improving a product’s accessibility across multiple groups of users.
This is the most significant contribution of UX today. With optimized and better UX, businesses can almost guarantee their desired ROI. For example, UX helps designers optimize their time to improve a product instead of going back to fix errors. Getting something done right the first time saves a business a lot of money. In fact, a study done by Forester Research shows that companies earn at least $100 for every dollar they invest in UX.
That said, it’s impossible not to talk about usability testing and its importance to UX. But before anything else, let’s talk about the basics. What’s usability testing?
Usability testing is a method used to evaluate a product. What makes it distinct from other forms is that it’s a human-centered approach, as the name implies. In a nutshell, you test the product against a real user and modify and improve it depending on their feedback. It helps you:
- Identify problems within the product
- Discover opportunities where you can improve
- Gain valuable and actionable insight from user feedback, including behavior and preferences
During a usability test, a realistic group representing your target market will complete a list of tasks. Their interactions will be observed and noted and eventually analyzed to pull the product piece by piece and address weak points. The ultimate goal of a usability test is to see if you’re product is ready for your target market.
Luckily, you have accessible tools like Trymata that help you gain actionable insights through comprehensive built-in usability testing functions. It features
There’s a reason why usability testing as an industry is worth over 2 billion dollars and is expected to grow exponentially. Usability testing is an indispensable part of designing products because:
- It helps you understand your target users by studying how they interact with the product.
- Usability testing gives you a look into authentic user behavior, and this is actually why it works. During a usability test, not only do you have facilitators observing and taking notes of realistic user behavior, but you can also use cameras and microphones for real-time monitoring and recording. And when you nail this down, you get access to valuable information on user engagement.
- Ensure that your product functions as intended and meet user needs.
- One of the main goals of usability testing is to ensure that you offer a product that does what you intend it to do. A quality product is indispensable for your company’s bottom line. And fortunately, a usability test will help answer vital questions such as:
- Does the product solve a problem?
- Is it easy to use?
- Is it polished?
- Is it efficient?
- Is it tailored to the needs of end-users?
- Discover weak links and problems that end users will also likely experience.
- Usability can be the most vital indicator of a product’s usefulness. You don’t just want a product that solves problems but also a product that gives a great user experience. With a usability test, you can discover possible problems within a product and address them before putting it on the market for actual users to find out for themselves. For example, a usability test can determine issues like:
- Inconsistency in layout, designs, buttons, and headers
- Bugs or errors that stop users from going to and from a feature
- Unnecessary submenus that just add to the clutter
- Slow loading or processing times
- Identify areas of improvement.
- It’s okay to discover that your product may not be as perfect as you wanted it to be. In fact, discovering its imperfections earlier on helps you make it more competitive and boost its effectiveness. In addition, a usability test will drive the product’s data-driven development and help you ensure a better user experience and, in turn, invite stakeholders to participate or invest in your offering.
We’ve already established the importance of user experience, which is probably why you already know why usability testing is an indispensable tool to ensure that you offer a product that solves problems and is enjoyable to use. This human-centered approach is data-driven, a tool you use to determine if your product fits the market and your intended end-users. In other words, usability testing is a solution.
- Collect data (Issues, problems, etc.)
- Prioritize which issue or problem to address
- Generate solutions
- Prioritize which solution to use and for what problem
It’s indispensable for UX because it helps you evaluate your product. Starting with good research questions, you can get valuable data and information so that later on, you can get ideas and actionable insights to drive product improvement. Once you have the questions in place, you can gather relevant data and information, like problems or issues that users will likely experience with your product.
If there’s one thing you can take away from this piece, it’s this: it’s essential to discover the problems before your actual users do because this helps you pre-empt a lousy user experience. And if you don’t know yet, a poor user experience is dangerous. Here are some of them:
- Loss of revenue
- Limited average order value
- Increase cart abandonment
- Damage to your brand
- Increase in customer acquisition costs
- Damage to SEO
- Increase of costs
And in addition, a usability test can help you not just identify these problems but prioritize which issues take precedence over others. By addressing the more significant concerns, you optimize the use of your resources. It also helps you determine which solution is best. For example, there are many solutions to one problem, but which will likely solve the problem and drive maximum results using the least resources?
The UX industry didn’t grow into the mammoth it is today for no reason. And it’s still evolving to this day. There have been significant developments in UX to solve problems, improve our quality of life, and for the business industry, increase ROI. And at the heart of this industry is a human-centered approach permeating usability testing and how it helps understand user behavior, discover areas of opportunities, and ensure product quality.
So usability testing shapes every facet of the end-users experience with the product. And that’s precisely why investing in it, along with various tools that offer usability testing tools, is central to an effective and sought-after product.