Principles of Usability Testing for Mobile Applications

25 January 2016

To deliver a clean, clutter-free and usable website or mobile application along with an effective user interface, it is imperative to carry out usability testing. Creating a design without opting for mobile usability testing can come with major flaws and however experienced a designer might be, it is essential to check for its usability. Usability testing is a technique used for product evaluation. This evaluation is done by testing the application on various users who belong to the target audience. Usability testing is majorly done to understand how well the users are able to use the application. To make any design user-centred, it is essential to carry out these tests in the design and development stage. 

Any product is designed with an intended purpose, scope and to provide easy access to the users. The aim of usability testing is to determine how well the purpose of design is served and even if it is served, how well the user is able to grasp it. 

Principles of Usability testing 

Every usability test is set up with different goals depending on the design, product and target audience. The tester makes specific observations when the user is performing the tasks on the mobile site. The generated results and observations will be considered as a baseline on which the necessary design changes will be made 

Below mentioned are certain principles followed while carrying out usability testing.

1. Effectiveness of the mobile application 

The observer will make notes on how the user is performing the task. If the application is related to shopping, there may be related deductions made. The time, number of steps taken by the user for purchasing a single product will be noted. Along with it, the observer will note the basic steps that are followed by the user that is; finding a product adding it to the cart, reading the ratings/ feedbacks and purchasing it in the end. How easily these processes are carried out will determine the efficiency of any application. 

2. Accuracy 

Testing the accuracy involves registering the number of mistakes made by the users in the entire process. Is the information provided in the application guiding the user to make the purchase? If not, then the design and functionality has to be revamped. 

3. Recall factor 

If the user does not use the application for a long time, how well does he remember the entire process of browsing and the interface? If the user is able to recall, make sure that he does so because the interface was crisp and easy. This can only be achieved by studying the user and understanding the needs. 

4. Emotional response of the user 

While the tester asks the user to perform certain tasks, how well does he respond? Does the user feel stressed out while going through the tasks? How confident was the user and would he recommend this application/ product to a friend? 

These are certain principles on which mobile usability testing is carried out. Nevertheless, one can also set other usability goals based on the products that are being offered to the consumers. Closely monitoring the user’s gestures and implementing necessary changes from the observations made during the testing is important.

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