How 85% of UX problems can be solved by testing 5 users? – The importance of usability testing

Inez Bartosińska

It might surprise you, but believe us when we say that not everyone who builds an application thinks about the consumers. How is that possible when it’s obvious that end-users and their preferences are an absolute basis, you will ask? Well, the answer lies in the fact that sometimes as inventors, we get so excited about our idea that we forget to even consider the possibility that someone may not find our app as useful as we think.

You will want to validate your project after reading this article. Here is why

For some of us, visionaries, the idea of even the slightest validation comes along with that shaken certainty – if I have to validate my application, is it really as good as I was thinking? And what if it is not? 

Sounds scary, right? It’s natural to be nervous. Especially when it comes to deciding whether an idea to which you are attached has a chance to be warmly welcomed by the public. It gets even more difficult once you have already dedicated A LOT of time and money to designing and development. Or when you have an investor who is waiting to hear the good news from you, not how they put their money in the product that didn’t have a chance to succeed from the very beginning. 

Meanwhile, there are several aspects that could hinder your product’s win, even if your idea was excellent. 

Firstly, possible errors and difficulties on the website or in the application contribute to users’ frustration. You may or may not be aware of these issues. However, if they exist, you need to know that when not detected and improved, they will result in users abandoning your product, probably forever. For example, an obstructed purchasing process may be to blame. In that case, users almost always will give up the purchase and never use the app again. Statistically, 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. 

Secondly, verifying whether your solution will actually meet the real needs of users is a must. Yes, your product may look great, but primarily, it must be useful for your users. There is a reason why “Focus on the user and all else will follow” is the number one rule in Google’s “Ten Things” philosophy.

People need to use digital products on a daily basis, so they will choose the products that make their life simpler, not harder. Would you keep on using something that doesn’t fulfill any of your requirements just because it has a nice design? Not really, right? It’s the same with your end-users and that’s why you should always focus on building a product that solves their real problems. 

Ultimately, all of these aspects have an impact on building an effective customer flow that will provide users with simple and intuitive navigation. So, what is the best practice to conduct a product validation that can help you find answers to how to develop a product that is great in all respects? Here is where usability testing comes in handy!

What is usability testing and why is it the key to successful validation of every product?

Usability testing is a UX research technique in user-centered design to evaluate a product by testing it on future or actual users. It provides direct information on how users interact with the system by simply asking them to complete a specific task and observing how they go through with it. Generally, it helps to understand users’ behavior and see what is their natural response to various functionalities in your app. 

Thanks to this method, you can be sure that your product and its functions meet the expectations of the target group. You can see if users get lost while navigating the app and which moments are causing the difficulty. And then, you can immediately introduce some improvements. 

One of the biggest advantages of usability testing is that this method will work regardless of whether you are at the stage of building a product or you want to improve an already existing application.

In both cases, product testing and validation are beneficial. In the first one, of course, because thanks to the direct verification with users, you will avoid launching a product that does not meet customer expectations sufficiently. 

In the second case, even if your application is running smoothly and users are, well, using it, a periodic UX audit will prevent you from being left behind. There are some unchanging principles and heuristics of effective design. However, market trends keep on evolving, and once a well-made product is not the end of the adventure.

Which UX problems can be solved with usability testing?

Several User Experience related issues can easily be addressed with the help of one simple UX research method – usability testing. Let’s see some of the most common cases.

Forget the assumptions. Facts are the new black

As we established before, your idea for a product or the app you have created is probably great. But, to achieve the intended goals, satisfy investors, provide users with a really good product, and finally, feel satisfaction, the word probably must disappear from your dictionary. Let’s leave the assumptions behind and look for the facts. Usability testing will provide you with real information based on user experiences about what does and what doesn’t work in your product. 

Usability issues or bugs? Not after usability testing

Even if you checked very carefully, there still might be some issues or minor errors that hinder the customer flow in your app. A new set of eyes, especially as critical as your users, can come in handy in detecting faulty links, site flaws, and grammatical mistakes that escaped your attention. 

Who’s gonna use my app?

Have you really thought about that while working on UX? It’s not unusual that sometimes we focus so much on a nice-looking interface that we forget one crucial aspect – will the target audience find it intuitive? For example, when creating an app for the elderly, don’t inspire yourself with products dedicated to teenagers. Since usability testing is a user-centered UX research method, it will save you from this common mistake. 

Know your target group’s needs

Usability validation encompasses tests and trials with real customers. Thus, if you observe them carefully and then respond to their requirements, there is a good chance of making your product well suited to the audience. Regular check-ups and continuous communication with end-users will result in delivering the most user-friendly product possible.  

The value of keeping the right users

Having trouble keeping good retention in your app? Customer retention measures how thriving a business is at gaining new users and how effective it is at meeting clients’ expectations. Additionally, it increases ROI, boosts loyalty, and brings in new users. If you don’t know what you are doing wrong and why your retention scores are low – conduct a usability test. It will help uncover users’ pain points and deliver improved UX. In return, you can count on better retention and higher conversion rates. 

Simple fixes, significant benefits

When it comes to discussing UX improvements, you might assume in advance that any change will come along with a time-consuming and expensive process. False! Very often, it is the small adjustments that bring the most value. Unnecessary or ill-designed usability tests are a waste of resources.

Why do you only need 5 users to test with?

The best results come from testing no more than 5 users and running as many small tests as you can afford. If you test zero users, then the result will be zero insight. But, once you gain information from a single consumer, your insights boost instantly and you get to discover nearly a third of all there is to know about the design’s usability. 

If you take another user, you will find that they share some of the first person’s experiences but provide some new insights, too. People differ from one another, so the second user is very likely to add something further. When it comes to the third user, they will tell you mainly about the things you’ve already observed with the first two. Probably with some smaller remarks that weren’t already said by the first two. Therefore, as you add more and more users, you learn fewer and fewer new things. It’s not necessary to keep observing the same actions several times. But, if you adopt a different strategy instead of adding more people and run more and various tests, you will get many more observations.

Good UX design means better business

Wrapping up product validation through techniques such as usability testing can help you make sure that you are creating the right thing and building a digital product that responds to real market needs. Some say that good UX design means better business. And that’s something they are right about! It’s a strategy that increases the chance of a bigger success and lowers the threat of failure. If you would like some support in this challenge, make sure that you get yourself an experienced and open-minded team of specialists that will lead you to develop the right solution. You can also check out the rest of our UX-related articles or reach out to us directly. We will be more than happy to support you!

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