Why Conduct Usability Tests? Perks Explained


Website usability tests are useful in determining the intuitiveness of your site. It takes time to create an intuitive digital product, whether it is a website or a mobile application. The most challenging thing about it is that intuitiveness is subjective – what one person considers to be intuitive can be non-intuitive to another person.

In most cases, developers rely on trial and error and user feedback to increase the usability of their products. The perception of your audience about your products is important to the growth of your business.  This is why all businesses need to conduct usability tests to improve the quality of their offerings.

What is Usability Testing?

Usability testing refers to the collection of opinions from your audience to assess how a specific product is easy to use.  It is a widespread practice that is used to test both digital and tangible consumer products.

In standard usability tests, users are expected to complete a variety of tasks inside a specified timeframe. If several users experience similar difficulties in using a product, it signals the developers that the products need improvement to make it more usable.

Lately, companies have been allocating bigger budgets for usability testing due to the advantages it has to users and developers.

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Benefits of Usability Testing

Usability testing has benefits to both the users and the developers of a product. These include:

  • Save time for the consumers and the developers.
  • Ensures that consumers get optimal user experience.
  • Gives insights on the level of satisfaction generated by a product.
  • Identifies issues that would otherwise have been difficult to notice.
  • Provides an impartial evaluation of a product.

The ROI of a product that provides optimal user experience is enormous. According to Forbes, Amazon prioritised improving its website design to offer better user experience over product promotion during the first year after its launch. Today, it is among the biggest companies in the world.

Types of Usability Testing

There are several forms of usability tests.  The suitability of a test depends on the nature of your business, and one might work more effectively than the other.

Here are the three most popular techniques used for usability testing.

  • Hallway testing
  • Remote testing
  • A/B testing

Hallway Testing

Hallway testing is the most affordable technique of website usability testing. It is also the most straightforward. It involves selecting a random person who has never interacted with the item under testing and requesting them to perform a specific task.

It is useful if you want to identify underlying issues that are not easily noticeable to individuals who interact with the product regularly. For instance, you could this method to measure the site usability of a new website.

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Remote Testing

Remote testing has significant advantages over in-house usability testing. First, it enables you to avail your testing to impartial users who are located anywhere across the globe. The testers are unlikely to know what your product is before the test, and they would also have no previous experience of using it. Second, it allows the user to test the product in their home without the pressure of a testing lab setting. It is ideal when you want to perform website usability tests.

There are two ways of conducting remote usability testing.  The first way is synchronous usability testing, where a user talks to a moderator over a video call.  The moderator instructs the user on how to use the product and asks them to highlight any difficulties that they experience.

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The second technique is asynchronous usability testing, where the moderator is not present.  Instead, the developers keep a log of all the actions performed by the user, including clicks and other critical incidents. Later on, the developers analyse the logs and see if the users experienced similar challenges while using the product. This information is then used to decide whether changes are needed or not.

A/B Testing

A/B testing is a technique that can be done at the same time with any of the two methods mentioned above. It is hugely popular among businesses who do digital marketing in Singapore.

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The concept of A/B testing involves creating two variations of a product, one called A, and another known as B. the two products are then sent to two different groups of users. After the two segments complete their test and return results, the product with the higher conversion rate is selected as the more viable option.

How to Implement a Usability Test

There are several effective approaches when doing website usability tests. However, the process is similar regardless of the technique you choose.

Here are the steps you should follow when performing website usability tests.

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  • Decide the form of the usability test you want to conduct. You can use hallway testing, remote testing or A/B testing.
  • Define the part of your product that you wish to test. It is advisable to divide testing into smaller chunks to avoid overwhelming the testers. You should also specify the functionality that they are going to test so that they do not waste time in other areas.
  • Specify what action completes a task. For instance, you might require the user to register for a service or purchase a product after completing the test.
  • Find participants for the usability test. If you opt for synchronous remote usability testing, you will need a moderator to guide users through the test. If it is asynchronous, you need a system that will keep a log of all actions taken by the testers.
  • Ask the users to complete the specified task. The moderator should stay away to avoid influencing the user into making a particular choice. This ensures that you get an unbiased opinion about the intuitiveness of your product.
  • Analyse the outcomes of the usability test. If users experienced similar challenges, you should take note and make necessary adjustments. There will be small concerns experienced by small groups of people, but should primarily focus on problems faced by the largest number of testers.
  • The website design team should use the findings of the analysis to make adjustments to the product and improve its usability.
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How to Ask Usability Testing Questions

You should not follow a script or a template of questions when performing website usability tests. The subject matter of every test is unique. You need to centre your questions on the things you want to learn, and more importantly, you need to ask the right questions.

Here are the practices you should follow when asking questions for a site usability test.

  • Do not ask leading questions that can influence the response of the buyer. If you use this approach they will do what you want them to instead of giving an impartial opinion.
  • Ask testers how they would complete a task on the website instead of showing them what to do next.
  • If a participant asks what a product does, ask them what they expect it to do instead of telling them the answer.


Conducting website usability tests requires time and resources, but it has significant benefits to your business.

Its most significant benefit is that it saves the time you would otherwise spend improving a product after it launches, that you would have corrected if you conducted a usability test before the launch.

As a result, usability testing means that your customers will be happy, you will have more conversions and it will be much easier for the development team.

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About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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