Usability testing determines the extent to which the software product is understood, easy to learn, easy to operate and attractive to the users under specified conditions. Normally, This testing is recommended during the initial design phase of SDLC, which gives more visibility on the expectations of the users.
Usability testing is a black-box testing technique. The aim is to observe people using the product to discover errors and areas of improvement. Usability testing generally involves measuring how well test subjects respond in four areas: efficiency, accuracy, recall, and emotional response. The results of the first test can be treated as a baseline or control measurement; all subsequent tests can then be compared to the baseline to indicate improvement.
- Efficiency — How much time, and how many steps, are required for people to complete basic tasks?
- Accuracy — How many mistakes did people make? (And were they fatal or recoverable with the right information?)
- Recall — How much does the person remember afterward or after periods of non-use?
- Emotional response — How does the person feel about the tasks completed? Is the person confident, stressed? Would the user recommend this system to a friend?
To assess the usability of the system under usability testing, quantitative and/or qualitative Usability goals (also called usability requirements) have to be defined beforehand. If the results of the usability testing meet the Usability goals, the system can be considered as usable for the end-users whose representatives have tested it.
Hallway testing (or Hall Intercept Testing) is a general methodology of usability testing. Rather than using an in-house, trained group of testers, just five to six random people are brought in to test the product or service. The name of the technique refers to the fact that the testers should be random people who pass by in the hallway.
Types of Usability Testing-
Hallway testing is particularly effective in the early stages of a new design when the designers are looking for “brick walls,” problems so serious that users simply cannot advance. Anyone of normal intelligence other than designers and engineers can be used at this point.
In Remote Usability testing, usability evaluators, developers and prospective users are located in different countries and time zones, conducting a traditional lab usability evaluation creates challenges both from the cost and logistical perspectives. These concerns led to research on remote usability evaluation, with the user and the evaluators separated over space and time. Remote testing, which facilitates evaluations being done in the context of the user’s other tasks and technology can be either synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous usability testing methodologies involve video conferencing or employ remote application sharing tools such as WebEx. The former involves real-time one-on-one communication between the evaluator and the user, while the latter involves the evaluator and user working separately
Expert review is another general method of usability testing. As the name suggests, this method relies on bringing in experts with experience in the field (possibly from companies that specialize in usability testing) to evaluate the usability of a product.
Automated expert reviews provide usability testing but through the use of programs given rules for good design and heuristics. Though an automated review might not provide as much detail and insight as reviews from people, they can be finished more quickly and consistently. The idea of creating surrogate users for usability testing is an ambitious direction for the Artificial Intelligence community.