Quick, think of a product that is useless. A snuggie? No doubt it made millions but are we using those now? Take the example of Doggles, do our pooches really need them? Are they usable or made money because of sheer marketing tactics. Creating useful products can be easy but still has a complexity beneath the surface.
As we all know usability does have a business advantage, in fact, it has zillions of business advantages. Usability is that part of UX where “ease of access” and “use of the product” are taken care of. Coming over to a usable interface in this digital world, what people prefer?
A usable interface basically has 3 primary outcomes:
- User must become familiar and competent with it
- User must achieve their objectives
- User must recall the UI and use it seamlessly on subsequent visits
The concept of “end users” or “intended users” is implied in the definition: Usability must be recognized in the context of the product’s everyday users. Since a product’s creators are rarely its intended users, their finding the product easy to use does not mean end-users will have the same experience. Usability is a process where we design and develop products that fit with how people think, learn, behave, and play.
At times we just focus on proving the usability and not knowing how users would take it. Here is a classic example of a product with the best of the features but failed due to various reasons – Newton by Apple- A beautiful failure: Apple Newton is a series of handheld assistants by Apple. Handwriting recognition was the most anticipated feature, but due to high prices and problems, it was later canceled.
We need to test the product. Why? Here are the reasons.
Top 3 reasons to test the product: Testing is necessary as:
- It indicates trouble spots and the part where users get stuck or confused.
- It gathers data needed to identify issues and improve the design.
- It helps in finding out if the product is easy to navigate.
Thus understanding how users take the product and its usage is vital as it affects the business’ bottom line. Now we all know how vital is testing the product’s usability, but companies must choose their testing method depending upon the hypothesis and what is the expected outcome.\
But how will all this help in succeeding in business? What if we prove that Usability can result in profitability. Here’s a glimpse of it.
Websites that are difficult to use frustrate customers forfeit revenue and decay brands. Usability-focused sites offer visitors potential improvements in performance and productivity.
For example, if an online shopping site proposes an enjoyable experience rather than an annoying one, the conversions might go up. This means no time wastage in search of products or figuring out how to buy one. It is an experience where the user feels confident that his financial and personal information will be secure – an online shopping experience that leaves no doubt in the shopper’s mind that the experience was superior to purchasing from a brick-and-mortar shop will.
Usability privileges for business success:
- Higher customer satisfaction means more sales
When a product matches user needs, satisfaction often improves drastically — better user satisfaction results in better sales for e-commerce platforms and consumer applications. Websites that are slow can easily get on the nerves of the users which will lead them to abandon the site. Usable websites enhance user experiences, making them inclined to stay longer on the site and also return.
According to Jakob Nielsen, Online shoppers consume most of their time and money at websites with the best usability. Good navigation and website design make it simpler for users to find what they’re looking for and to grab and buy it.
- Gives a competitive edge
Ease of use is always high on customers’ wishlist of features for a product. Giving customers what they wish, would seem to mean giving them usability. Users appreciate products that don’t waste their time or try their patience with complicated user interfaces. Building usability into products conveys users that the creator values their time and doesn’t take their patronage for granted.
The importance of having a competitive edge in usability maybe even more noticeable for e-commerce websites. Usable e-commerce websites build goodwill. Users acknowledge the effort put into building their e-commerce experience easy and efficient by returning to usable websites. Besides, one of the biggest barriers to e-commerce is trust. An e-commerce trust study found that “navigation” and “presentation”—both usability matters—were vital to building trust.
- A scaled product that reduces costs
Focusing on real user needs and knowing what you’re designing and for whom, can indicate fewer design arguments and fewer iterations. Companies that create information-technology products for in-house use can often reduce development, support, training, documentation, and maintenance costs by applying usability-devised methods. These methods are quite effective at discovering usability problems way before the development cycle and when they’re most accessible and least expensive to fix.
American Airlines reduced the cost of fixes by 60–90% by fixing usability problems in the design phase.
- Enhances productivity
People are more productive using usability-devised products. According to human factors, a company recorded a 25% improvement in throughout and a 25% decrease in user errors after screens were redesigned according to usability principles. From the beginning, usability has had considerable success in improving productivity.
For example, A company spent $68,000 on usability to improve the sign-on procedure in a product that is used by 100,000 users. The company benefitted $6,800,000 resulting in improved productivity the very first day when the product was used. The cost benefits ratio of $1:$100.
- Saves time and money on training
Usability-devised products often require less training. When user interface design is introduced with usability data and experts, the resulting user interfaces often promotes learning and retention, thereby reducing training time.
“Every hour you can cut off user training is one hour more for productive work and one hour less to pay an instructor.”
– Jakob Nielsen
- Cuts down support costs
Usability can help keep support costs in line as well. When a product is understandable and easy to learn, users don’t need to call support that frequently. A company sent $70,000 to build a usability lab for testing an accounting system for a car dealership which got support calls down to zero. Savings were estimated at up to $100,000 for the first year. And it also continued in subsequent years.
At Microsoft, MSWord was causing long hours of support calls. As a result of usability testing and other methods, the user interface for the feature was iterated. In the next release, support calls “dropped dramatically”; Microsoft identified “significant cost savings.”
- Reduces documentation costs
Because a user interface is directed towards being predictable, logical, and understandable, user documentation is often easier to plan for usability-devised products. Documentation that’s easier to build is written quickly and is less inclined to errors.
And usability-tested products usually require minimal documentation. This means that these products can be less expensive to document than products built without usability. Usability work dropped the need to republish and spread a manual which saved $40,000 in one year for a company.
There are many kinds of user testing, from behavioral and attitudinal to qualitative and quantitative. Attitudinal and behavioral testing gives an abstract of “what people say” vs. “what people do.” Many a time the two are very different.
But ultimately, everything sums up to one prime question –
What is the Best Number of Participants in Usability Testing?
Each of these tests has a fixed figure of participants for the best results. According to A Mathematical Model of the Finding of Usability Problems, five participants will unseal 85% of the issues. For best results, this should be implemented with three design iterations for15 participants entirely.
Top Usability Testing methods include:
A color-coded system to show analytics to understand user behavior. Adopting a heat map in the designing process implies making informed decisions about how we want the product to look, as well as understand how users interact with the website. They’re easy to use, and your research can be put into practice when creating interactive prototypes.
Crazy Egg, Hotjar, Mouseflow, Lucky orange are some of the heat mapping tools used in user experience designing. All these heat maps help in building a more user-friendly website/product. The main goal is to deliver a positive user experience.
- Paper prototyping:
A paper prototype includes a rapid iteration with different versions within minutes. Since paper prototyping has been around for so many years, there exist quite a number of slight variations as to how usability testing using paper prototypes is conducted
- Encourages creativity
- Not tools/coding needed
- Assists in documentation
Surveys are an inexpensive form of testing where comprehensive information can be collected with quick execution. Usability testing provides a thorough evaluation of how respondents communicate with surveys and how this communication influences the quality of a survey.
For example, a respondent may follow the survey question and answer options but may have a problem while choosing an answer correctly on a smartphone’s small screen. Usability testing enables us to recognize potential problems in usability. The goal next is to decrease these errors through iterative usability testing.
Usability is fruitful for business and the evidence here is strong. Moreover, the likely inheritors of usability are not just end-users; organizations that develop products can profit from usability. Conducting a usability cost-benefit analysis in a company may be a prime start towards advancing and utilizing usability methods.
Usability is good business. Striving to improve usability via the methods of usability that includes user analysis, prototyping, and usability testing can result in notable benefits to the company.