Cancel the two week testing holiday – Why there’s no need to stop development for usability
Your team has packed the sun block, cancelled the milk, put the cat in the kennels and the dog in the cattery, and are now sitting back, awaiting the taxi to the airport. It’s usability review fortnight, and they’re going to make the most of it.
But wait. What’s this? There’s no reason why website usability testing should bring development to a crashing halt. Not in this day and age, anyway. You’d better cancel those flights, call them back in … and read on.
Usability Reviews – The old way
Once it was a case of finding the right practitioner, who could put a strong methodology in place that would be adhered to by all relevant parties. Next up, booking lab time. Something that had to be done in advance, putting the whole project in jeopardy if the website or prototype wasn’t ready when the date for user testing arrived. Then came the process of vetting and recruiting the right participants to take part in the usability review. This alone could take 5-10 days, ensuring the quality, and the skills were there to conduct efficient and effective usability testing. Once everything was in place, you’d be looking at a couple of weeks – sometimes longer – break in development, while the usability review was carried out. Hence the development team booking flights to the furthest corners of the planet.
But those days are over.
Usability Reviews – The New Way
Usability is an essential factor in the creation of a product that delivers business value, and the best user experience, yet many are put off by what they perceive as a longwinded process, as highlighted above. But why should usability testing impact on the development cycle?
It has long been advocated that a successful usability review can be conducted with as few as 5 participants. With such a small number, it is possible to produce high quality results in just a single day of testing. This gives you the feedback needed to continue to the next development iteration, with the minimum of disruption.
Expert reviews are another alternative to the time-consuming, traditional method of usability testing. Harnessing the skill set of an accredited usability specialist, who can quickly and accurately identify usability issues based upon their expertise, offers a fast turnaround, allowing the development cycle to continue virtually unhindered.
The expeditious nature of this style of usability review, in both instances, makes it’s imperative that methodologies are developed and set in concrete from the off, remaining consistent, and adhered to throughout.