What is Usability Testing?
Usability testing is commonly used to test something new, a product or service, and measure the reactions of audiences to it. Feedback is then used to improve it with the owner, inventor or developer. The same process occurs again until the owner is happy with it.
One may think this process could become repetitive, but fear not! Only test the most important issues that occur the most and are generally higher priority.
What is Accessibility Testing?
This is concerned more with people with disabilities. How would one interact with something if they were blind, deaf or unable to physically touch and move something? These are the major concerns to address and solve. This is similar to usability testing.
Do not mistake Focus Groups as Accessibility & Usability Testing!
Focus groups are groups of people (roughly 5 to 8) working together as a team about ideas and design to gather all thoughts into different concepts.
Usability testing is a one person process guessing which item to test and how to use it.
In contrast, accessibility testing is focused towards disabled people, inventing alternative methods when using products or services.
But focus groups have advantages, they can determine what the audience wants and needs and also test the idea behind the site, making sure it makes sense and it appeals to them.
The disadvantages are that it is difficult to acknowledge whether the product or service works and if improvements can be made.
Focus groups are better done in the research task and during the idea generation and development process for fine-tuning, but don’t mistake them for usability testing. They cannot tell whether people can use the product or service.
So when should test take place?
It’s common sense to continue testing throughout the whole process. When researching, there’s a test to compare existing products or services in competition. After idea generation, ideas can be compared and combined into one final idea. Various problems may occur which can be corrected.
Who should do the testing?
By now, one will know how many tests are to be done, but the first test should be done with a small group of all ages and genders who know about a product or service. After this anybody will be able to participate, thus saving time. Any business or company should do as many tests as possible for accuracy.
Testing in a professional environment.
In a professional environment, 2 labs should be hired with a very large mirrored wall in-between them. The owners, inventors or developers watch from one lab to the other and observe the person and the prototype tested.
Simple testing without using professionals.
Use one room with at least 2 cameras to record the person and product being tested, which will be used later with the owners, inventors or developers.
The problem with simple testing is the professional environment can be costly to businesses. Compared to simple testing, it’s far cheaper and flexible for businesses and the people involved.