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Usability Testing – Key Takeaways For Business

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By Author: Michael Wade
Total Articles: 62
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The success or failure of any software or product depends on its acceptance by the end users or the customers. The ‘acceptance’ by users may depend on a slew of reasons:
• Easy navigation in case of a website / application or operability in case of a product
• Quick loading in case of a website or an application
• An easy to grasp layout or design
• Good content that appeals to users
• Non requirement of any add on like flash for the software to load
To achieve the above mentioned user criteria, the development team undertakes various Software Testing Services wherein Usability Testing plays an all important role before the ‘system’ is handed over to the client or end customers.

Usability Testing, as the name suggests, is carried out by the actual users of a software or product in a real test environment to check its functionality, usability, reliability and responsiveness. The users can either be domain experts or laymen, and it is up to the development team to decide beforehand on the type of users. The testers basically observe the behaviour of users on a real time basis (preferably) and encourage users to ‘think out loud’ while using the application.
As users are generally not very articulate about the problems they face while using the software, the insistence on ‘think out loud’ helps identify problems. If the test session is interactive on a real time basis, it can be termed as synchronous. However, if the users are separated by constraints of distance, time zone, infrastructure or language, their feedback can be collated to be studied later by the test teams. Such interactions are called asynchronous.
From the perspective of Quality Assurance such testing is of utmost importance and garners key benefits for the overall business. It assumes increased significance in the field of Mobile App Testing. The key benefits accrued to business are as follows:
One test fits all: A properly designed and executed usability test can stand in for tests like functionality tests, integration tests, unit tests et al. This helps in lowering the test costs as well as improving the turnaround time of the software.
Identification of potential bugs: Many a times the development teams do not have any knowledge of potential bugs in the system. This can be attributable to their over confidence or to the fact that these bugs are often not captured during other types of testing.
Cost saving: If the inherent bugs or errors in the software are identified before the same is out in the market, these can be rectified early thus saving considerable amounts by avoiding redesigning or redevelopment. Also, the software with errors is bound to receive innumerable customer feedbacks, which can overwhelm the existing customer care system at the business side affecting its efficiency.
Better user experience: An error free software or product will have better user experience leading to better customer retention and conversion rates (for ecommerce sites). As rival sites are just a click away a better designed website with zero glitches and good content will attract increased user traffic.
Competitive advantage / Enhanced brand image: Customers have a plethora of choices as far as applications and websites are concerned. To sustain business in such a tough environment the criteria that come to the fore are Quality Assurance and quick turnaround time. Any software that is qualitatively better and is ahead of its rivals in the market is bound to find takers. This will surely pitch the business at a competitive advantage vis-a-vis its rivals and significantly enhance its brand image.

Michael Works for Gallop Solutions, it is a 10 year old, US based Colocated Independent Software Testing & QA Staffing Services Company with offices in Dallas and Philadelphia.

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