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What is usability testing?

Usability is the easiness of using and learning about a human made object. This concept of usability applies to the software applications apart from the other things such as the websites, tools, and books and so on.

“Usability testing is a kind of testing technique that is used in interaction designs for the evaluation of the product”.
– The designs on which this technique can be applied are centered on the users and the product also is tested on these users.
– This testing technique has become so crucial for the software testing industry that it is now almost irreplaceable. But what makes it so crucial?
– The reason behind its popularity is that it allows the developers and the programmers to obtain the direct input concerning how the software system under testing is being used by the users.
– Even though this sounds somewhat similar to the usability inspection methods, the two things are very contrasting to one another.
– The latter involves using a variety of methods for the evaluation of the user’s interface but it actually does not involve real users like the usability testing.
– This is the main difference that distinguishes between the two.
– Every human made product (this includes the software systems of course!) has a certain capacity of fulfilling the purpose for which it has been designed.
– Well, the purpose of the usability testing is to measure this capacity of the software product.

The following are some of the human – made products that benefit hugely from the usability testing:

  • Foods
  • Consumer products
  • Web sites and web applications
  • Computer interfaces
  • Devices
  • Documents
  • – Using the usability testing technique, the ease with which the set of objects or some specific object can be used is measured.
    – On the other hand, several universal principles are formulated by the “general human computer interaction studies”. – The usability testing technique is classified under the black box testing techniques category.
    – Its aim is to find the errors as well as the areas for improvement by observing how the people use the particular product.

    Below mentioned are the 4 areas for which the response of the system is measured in the usability testing:

  • Efficiency
  • – How many steps or how much time is taken by the users for the completion of a particular basic tasks?
    – These basic tasks might be creating an account, buying something online or creating an e – mail etc.

  • Recall
  • – This area involves measuring the response regarding how much memory of the task been done is retained by the user after a period of non – use of the software system.

  • Accuracy
  • – This area is about measuring the mistake rate of the user i.e., how many mistakes he or she makes during the completion of the task.
    – Further, the mistakes made are checked if they are recoverable (recovery here is in regard with right and complete information) or fatal.

  • Emotional response
  • – This area involves measuring the emotional response of the user i.e., what is there feeling regarding the use of the software system and how do they feel after the completion of the task.
    – It includes asking the question if the person feels stressed or confident while using the software system and whether or not they’ll recommend it to other people.

    Prior to assessing the system’s usability using the usability testing, it is required to define the system’s usability goals both quantitative and qualitative. If the results meet these goals, the software system is considered to be highly usable for its users and non – usable otherwise. It should also be noted that a class of users is represented by their representative and not by the whole population. Also, gathering opinions about the product cannot be considered usability testing.

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