Why a usability test is a worthwhile investment

At its simplest, Usability Testing is a method of testing your product – whether it be a website, mobile application, or service – with real users.

If you are involved in building products or services, then doing a usability test is a great way to show you how easy (or difficult!) it may be for users to use your product. More importantly, it gives great insight on how your customers feel about your product, helping you and the rest of the team understand what to do next.

We were recently approached by a company that built an app to receive all the service requests they normally receive on the website.  Instead of going the usual route of submitting a usual proposal, we decided to conduct preliminary usability tests to show them what the power of talking to their customers was.

In doing this, we discovered that there are 5 common issues when you don’t talk to your customers:

1. Your app might be useless.

During the course of our usability test, one of our testers said, “Nobody wants to download the app. It’ll take extra space on my phone and how many times do we need to see the doctor anyway? I need the space for important apps like Waze”. This gave the team the insight that maybe the HMO came up with an app that was not even a product that their customers needed. This insight was validated when the next two testers gave the same types of comment after struggling to use the app.

We later found out that the app was built to completely duplicate all the website’s features.

2. It costs a lot of money to make an app.

A junior level software developer costs around Php 40,000 in monthly salaries. You need at least 2 of them, and a project manager that takes in about Php 60,000 monthly. If the app took 3 months to build (and that’s being conservative), then you would have already spent half a million bucks on something you aren’t even sure is needed.

Without validating whether their product would actually solve a real problem that their customers faced or not, our client spent a considerable amount of money and time to create an app that they assumed their customers would use.

3. Your users might have a difficult time using your app.

It didn’t surprise the team that the testers had a hard time completing the tasks, but we were actually surprised that even the easiest task had the testers scratching their heads. Even the action of simply filling in their birthday as part of the registration process was hard to accomplish. The app uses a calendar that forces the users to swipe through months one at a time in order to choose their date of birth. One of the testers was born in the late 1980s, so there was quite a lot of swiping to do in order to complete a task that could’ve been easily done if the app just used a simple input field.

4. They might abandon the app altogether.

After releasing their mobile application to the public, it surprised the organization when they continuously got bad reviews. Apart from the fact that the application kept on crashing, the users encountered several difficulties in using the app. From failing to find what they needed, to having unsuccessful attempts at applying for one of the services, it was hard to use.

The difficulty in the tasks ranged from easy (registration) to hard (scheduling an appointment with a doctor), and we noted down the difficulties each test participant had with the tasks.

5. You will start losing customers.

Your app, as is your website, represents your company, and each unhappy experience is potentially a lost customer. Having a badly designed app that doesn’t solve a customer’s problem – or worse: makes it even more difficult for your customers – doesn’t only affect the relationship you have with that particular customer, it affects your relationship with his friends and relatives that hear about his bad experience.

In conclusion

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we know what’s best for our company and our users. We forget that the person who knows best about our products and services are our customers.

Talking to users and having them test your product at each step of the development process saves so much more than time and money, it also makes happy customers which allows you to grow your business.

So maybe we should listen to our customers more.

If you want to learn how to understand your customers needs, create prototypes and test your product with actual customers, click here for our workshop schedules. If you would like us to help you in designing or improving your digital product, contact us at hello@onoffgroup.com

Phil Smithson