Eight ways to make usability testing simple and speedy

Originaly published at: http://www.zdnet.com/article/eight-ways-to-make-usability-testing-simple-and-speedy/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

Usability testing for applications, interfaces or apps need not be a complicated, costly, or time-consuming exercise. There’s a relatively quick and easy way to go about it — and make all the needed adjustments that will keep end-users engaged and contented with the results.

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Photo: HubSpot
That’s the word from Steve Krug, a highly respected user-experience expert and author of Rocket Surgery Made Easy. In his recent keynote at MinneWebCon 2015, he suggests that DIY usability testing can be simple, inexpensive, fast, and effective.

Among Krug’s suggestions are these eight key guidelines that pave the way for DIY usability testing:

1) Keep users talking and expressing their opinions. Working with users is often like therapy, Krug says: “The main thing is to keep them thinking out loud,” he says. “You’re trying to get them to narrate whats going through their head.”

2) Keep the number of people you test small, Krug advises. The idea number of users at any one session is three, he points out. “With testing three users you’re going to find more problems than you actually have resources to fix — it doesn’t take many users to find serious problems.”

3) Keep things informal. A testing area can be set up anywhere in the organization. Plus, he adds, sharing the results of testing can be distilled into a single email, with bullets highlighting key issues discovered. “I don’t believe in collecting stats, because you’re only testing three people. No big honking report is needed, either — it used to be a person who conducted usability reports would need to write a 30-to-50-page report with all kinds of screen shots.”

4) Test early. When it comes to application development, “people wait to test until the thing was cooked, versus spending $5,000 on a round of usability testing while it was still in an ill-formed state,” Krug says. “The problem is, if you wait until it’s done, then it’s too late to fix anything.” Krug says testing can even begin with wireframes — “the tests tend to be very short, bur you can get great insights,”

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5) Test often. In addition, Krug advises, establish a regular testing date of once a month. “Once a month, bring in three people, and do testing on that day,” says Shrug. “This simplifies testing by simplifying recruiting, because you know exactly when you’re going to need people. It unhinges your test schedule from your development schedule.” With testing tied too closely to development schedules, the testing sessions may slip if development milestones slip, he adds. With a regular fixed testing schedule, IT managers can test “whatever we have lying around at that time.”

6) Get everyone involved in the testing process. The actual number of testing users should be limited — three at a time — but sessions should be open for observation and discussion by everyone across the enterprise. Making it a “shared experience can be incredibly powerful,” he says. He also provides a helpful hint to make the event top of mind: have great food on hand. “The best way to get people to come to these things is to have the best snacks in the organization,” he advises. Go to the best bakery and order those chocolate croissants.

7) Focus ruthlessly on a small number of the most important problems. “The problem with usability testing is very effective,” Krug points out. “You can turn up a lot of problems very quickly. But it turns out that we do not have that much time, people and resources to fix usability issues. The problems you find always are more than the resources you have to fix problems.” It’s important to focus on the one or two key problems and funnel resources in that direction, he says.

8) Tweak, not redesign. “When fixing problems, always do the least you need to do,” Krug says. “Don’t go into and try to make it perfect — go in and make the simplest change that you can,” he explains. It’s better to tweak than to attempt an expensive time-consuming redesign of the application or user interface. “Tweaks cost less — tweaks don’t ruin lives, break up families, wreck careers,” Krug explains. “Small changes can be made sooner, and if you make larger changes, you’re likely to break other things that are working fine in the process.”

10 usability considerations for your mobile app

Originaly punlished at: http://thenextweb.com/apps/2015/08/28/10-usability-considerations-mobile-app/

In a world dominated by mobile phones, finding a way to sell your product or service via smartphone is a good move. But when it’s your first time launching an m-commerce app, there’s a lot that’s easy to overlook. So I asked 10 founders from YEC the following:

What is the No. 1 usability consideration I should not overlook when launching an m-commerce app?
Their best answers are below:

1. Platform Usability
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Nicole MunozNothing is more frustrating to mobile users than not having an app work on their specific model of phone. In this case, make sure you extensively test exactly how the sales process will work across multiple platforms, using various types of digital devices. You don’t want to learn later that you have a high bounce rate because you overlooked a device issue. (And every phone on the market today has a few bugs!) – Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

2. Incentives for Sharing and Purchase
Trevor SummersMobile apps are more difficult than the web for quickly engaging customers. To overcome the additional friction of app downloads and installs, grease the virality with incentives for sharing and purchase. Turn your active consumers into marketing advocates. – Trevor Sumner, LocalVox

3. Usability and Conversion
Obinna EkezieThe most important thing you can do to test usability (and conversion) is to use mobile A/B testing platforms such as Optimizely. A/B testing allows you to test two or more variations of a particular app design or layout. For instance, you can test whether a red or a yellow “buy now” button drives more conversions. You can test if one layout results in longer time in-app than another, or various in-app purchase paths to see which drives more responses. The key is to stop guessing and start testing. Improving usability requires constant testing and optimization. – Obinna Ekezie, Wakanow.com

4. Easy Navigation
MilesOne of the top issues that users have when using m-commerce apps is poor navigation. This means that while they are using the app, they have trouble finding exactly what they are looking for, and have to navigate for way too long to stumble upon what they were looking to purchase. When focusing on usability, make sure that your products and/or services are extremely easy to find. Make sure there’s an easy to find “complete transaction” button on every page that they navigate through so that users can click as few times as possible. – Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com

5. Relevant Content
Ania RodriguezYou should curate content that is personalized for your site visitors. This is key to the usability success of an m-commerce site. – Ania Rodriguez, Key Lime Interactive.com

6. Great Aesthetics
Kevin CastleDon’t overlook aesthetics. People often start with a template, and you can tell by the look and feel. You should think through the aesthetics, as well as speed and interaction, so you can engage users on a deeper level. – Kevin Castle, Technossus

7. Complete Information
Punit ShahTraditional advice is to decrease content and reduce clicks required to conversion in a small screen environment. But make sure not to remove content that is vital to the customer’s buying process solely for the sake of reducing content. Consumers still need complete information to make their purchase, and withholding that basic information in the name of simplicity will result in a lower conversion rate. – Punit Shah, My Trio Rings

8. Auto-Filled Customer Data
jared-brownRepeatedly having to input personal data is a huge deterrent for making purchases on mobile, whether it’s via app or on a mobile site. Make sure they can store their billing and shipping information and then have it be automatically added to their orders, without having to re-add it each time. Just make sure you also give them an easy to reach edit button during the checkout process, in case they need to change their billing or shipping info. – Jared Brown, Hubstaff

9. Quick Movement
Andy KaruzaA small screen requires a simplified experience in order to get people to use it. Since browsing on mobile isn’t necessarily as fast as it is on a laptop, it’s important to limit the amount of clicks the customer has to make. Utilize scrolling as much as possible, as mobile customers prefer scrolling down a page to consume information as opposed to bouncing around between many pages. Focus on providing an experience where they can quickly move through the purchase process in as few pages as possible. – Andy Karuza, brandbuddee

10. Usability Testing Through Video
Marcela DeVivoIt’s not enough just to have usability tests — invest in a few video tests so you can actually see how people interact with your app. UserTesting.com is a great service that we’ve used, and the results we’ve gotten have been outstanding. Even though we thought we had a good understanding of our apps, watching many users interact — from different demographics — helped us make countless modifications. This should be essential. And once this is done, the next consideration is speed. Your app should be fast, or users wont’ have the patience for it. – Marcela DeVivo, National Debt Relief

Amazing People With Disabilities

There is nothing that is going to stop these incredible humans down, becoming models, actors, and special needs activists.


RJ Mitte
Famously known for his portrayal as Walter White’s son, Walter Jr. or Flynn, RJ Mitte was born with cerebral palsy just like his character in Breaking Bad. This congenital disorder affects the body’s movement, motor skills, and muscle tone. Because of this, he was given leg braces and crutches in order to help him walk, though, over time he grew stronger with sports and exercise and he no longer required them when he reached his teenage years. Mitte has gone on to star in several other tv shows and films, along with modeling and being a celebrity ambassador for United Cerebral Palsy.

Jamie Brewer
The 31-year-old actress was born with the condition known as Down Syndrome that is caused as a result of a third copy of Chromosome 21. Brewer broke onto the acting scene back in 2011 when a friend gave her word about a tv show that was looking for a woman with down syndrome to play a girl with down syndrome. That show would later come to be known as the binge-worthy American Horror Story where she portrayed Adelaide Langdon in the show’s first season. She would later return for the shows 3rd and 4th seasons respectively. She has gone on to pursue better treatment and visibility for people with IDD, an intellectual or developmental disability, through her activism and she recently became the first model with down syndrome to ever walk in New York Fashion Week.

Stephen Hawking
The world famous theoretical physicist happens to suffer from ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease that slowly took his freedom of movement and ultimately paralyzed him. He was told that he only had a mere two years to live when he was diagnosed at the young age of 21. He defied those odds and went on to have many accomplishments in his fields of study. He began to use crutches at first, but then became wheelchair bound and finally in 2009 he lost the ability to operate his wheelchair by himself and requires a breathing ventilator to help him. His life was recently adapted into the film The Theory of Everything where you can see Eddie Redmayne portray him

Nick Santonastasso
19-year-old Nick Santonastasso was born with Hanhart Syndrome, a rare congenital disease that left him without any legs, an undeveloped right arm, and a left arm that only has 1 finger on it. At the time of his birth, he was the only the 12th case of Hanhart Syndrome in the entire world. Back in 2014, he teamed up with the head makeup artist for the Walking Dead and pulled a prank on the tv show’s star Norman Reedus. The vine has since gone viral amassing over 8 million views on Youtube. Not just a famous vine star, he’s also a singer, musician and was a wrestler for his high school team. Nick says that even though he has his bad days where he wishes he was “normal”, he says he wouldn’t change because of how he loves to inspire his fans.

Jack Eyers
Jack Eyers made history last year at New York Fashion Week when he became the first amputee male model to walk down the runway. The then 25-year-old model was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency which stunted the growth of his right leg and ultimately he chose to have the leg amputated at 16 due to the discomfort that it was causing him. He happens to be a spokesperson for Models of Diversity, an agency that strives to promote diversity and inclusion on the catwalk. He states that he wants more inclusion for models with disabilities and that having a disability doesn’t necessarily have to be seen as something that holds you back.

Noah Galloway
The 34-year-old Army veteran was a Sergeant who happened to lose both his left arm and his left leg after he was injured in an IED attack. Once he left the army, he became a personal trainer and motivational speaker where he talks to school children and veterans leaving them with his mantra “no excuses”. He would later go on to become a model for various brands such as Armitron Watches and he placed third in the 20th season of Dancing with the Stars with his partner Sharna Burgess.

Aimee Mullins
Mullins was born with a condition known as fibular hemimelia which results in the individual missing their fibula bones and because of this she had to have her legs amputated up to her knees when she was only a year old. She went on to become an incredible athlete in softball, track and field, and skiing. Mullins made history as the first amputee person in history to compete in the NCAA. Not only is she an accomplished athlete, but she also happens to a model and an actress who’s starred in several different shows, her current role on the Netflix show Stranger Things.