In an era of digital mayhem, your brand communications are highly susceptible to fade out. To make a mark in front of your target audience, you need to ensure you develop a robust experience-driven branding system. 

But this goal is almost impossible to achieve without knowing what drives your audience? 

But all hopes are not lost. You have help in your hands.

Usability testing techniques are powerful tools to ensure that your brand never stops to woo out your target customers.

With real-time data and performance metrics, you exactly know how your audience behaves and interacts with your brand. 

However, to make optimum use of this robust tool, you need to be aware of its categories. 

Different types of testing

Based on available resources, target audience, and research objectives, your usability testing requirements will vary from time to time. 

So will the category of the test performed.  

You can divide any usability testing method design that you conduct ever into three key categories. 

1. Moderated and unmoderated

As you could have guessed from the name, a moderated usability testing session is a qualitative test conducted by a trained administrator in-person or remotely.  

It focuses on understanding the why behind participant behavior producing in-depth reports via direct one-on-one interaction. This method can prove to be expensive and time-consuming. 

On the contrary, an unmoderated quantitative test is administered without any controlled supervision at any location. 

The relative feasibility of this test is higher. It is cheaper, faster, hassle-free.  However, the biggest downside of this test is that you can’t administer follow-up questions.

2. Remote and in-person

In a remote test survey, the test participant and the administrator are in different locations. This quantitative test method is usually performed over the internet or by phone. 

However, with technological innovation and creative strategies, remote usability testing is more popular today than ever before.

Testing platforms are a viral means to complete the whole workflow.  Conduct the test, collect the data, develop insights to cater to improved user experience finally. A remote usability test’s key benefit is finding an interested participant is more comfortable, faster, and cheaper. 

In-person tests usually provide added data points as the researcher can observe and analyze the participant’s body language.  However, it makes the specific test technique expensive and time-consuming too. 

3. Explorative, assessment, and comparative

Explorative tests are open-ended interviews.  Here, participants brainstorm, share opinions, and express their emotions about ideas and concepts.  

This information is usually collected at the early stages of product development or even branding ventures to help researchers better assess gaps in the market, identify opportunities,  and develop customer-centric ideas. 

Assessment surveys usually try to map your audience’s impression of your brand and how satisfied they are with it. It helps you to understand your brand’s performance. 

Comparative tests usually map the desirability of a brand over its competitors in the market. It asks participants what solution they would prefer, if given a choice. 

Based on your needs and resources, you can use some of this year’s top trending usability techniques. 

Top usability testing techniques to boost your brand in 2021

1. Guerilla Testing

By far, it is the simplest kind of test that you can perform with your brand and product. Guerilla tests are conducted with random subjects in a public place like a coffee shop or shopping mall. Here you perform a quick usability test in exchange for a small incentive like a gift card or free merchandise. It is most efficient when you are having a relatively simple testing requirement and a tight budget. 

It is best performed when you have: 

  • Low budgets
  • Simple testing data requirements
  • Quantitative data requirements
  • Real-time user feedback
  • Early stages of product development or brand development

Pro-tips: 

  • The task plays a critical role in the functionality of the test. Prioritizing a few tasks always helps in this process. 
  • You have very limited time to perform per session. Usually, 5-10 minutes. So planning the tasks accordingly is vital. 
  • These tests are a prominent option for collecting data of emotional impressions on ideas and concepts.
  • These are not suitable for niche products that require special skills like software for medical practitioners.

2. Lab Usability Testing

Taking place inside a specially built usability testing lab this technique focuses on the finer details of the participant interaction behavior.  

Ideally, a test taker would perform a task on a device like a computer or mobile while a trained researcher would observe and ask contextual questions. 

Stakeholders too are involved in such a test, taking notes behind a one-way mirror in the testing room. 

It is best performed when:

  • You require in-depth qualitative information on how real users interact with your brand. 
  • Through this test review, vital insights on interaction issues and user behavior can be deduced to lower down the friction in the long run. 

As this test technique is expensive to administer, it is important to ensure the alignment of your test participants with your target market. 

Pro-tips  

  • A moderator should always be conscious and assist the participant to understand the purpose of testing. 
  • Keep the participant always on track of the test survey, during any confusion. 
  • The moderator should be a good observer. It is important to decode body language as precisely as possible. 

3. Unmoderated Remote Usability Testing

This test occurs remotely without any presence of a moderator. Offering fast, robust and cheap techniques this is the most popular quantitative survey. Here, test participants are asked to complete particular tasks in their own environment using devices in a real-world situation. However, this test fails to render detailed data on user behavior. 

It is best performed when you need to:

  • Analyze a large quantitative sample of data. 
  • Validate your hypothesis. 
  • Deduce user behavior patterns.

Pro-tip: 

  • Unmoderated remote testing doesn’t render insights into the reasoning of a participant’s behavior.  Thus, it shall be performed at a later stage of testing. 

4. Card Sorting

This test method boosts your information architecture to great levels. 

Here, you have to place content in the form of cards. A test taker simply manipulates the cards into groups and categories. As they finish, a moderator can ask the logic behind their task. 

It is best performed when you are trying to: 

  • Improve the information architecture. 
  • Understand the interpretation pattern of your customers. 
  • Have better semantic cohesiveness and usability of your product.

Pro-tip:

  • This test will help you make more data-informed decisions on the structural organization of content. Thus, always validate your hypothesis on real users. Sometimes changes intended to improve experience result in completely different outcomes.  

5. Contextual Inquiry

This test method adapts to an interview or observation framework to collect data about the user experience from real-time test participants. 

Here, survey takers are asked questions about their experiences with the product and then exposed to interact with the product in their real environment.

It is best performed when you want to: 

  • Obtain finer details about your audience like workspace, habits, pain points, preferences, likes and dislikes. 
  • Start with product development. You can utilize this method for shipped products too to address usability issues. 
  • Test product satisfaction. 

Pro-tips:  

  • The researcher shall never create an environment of biased opinions. Never lead your test subjects. 
  • Take notes during the observation process. 

Conclusion

At its core, usability testing is a methodology that caters to make the brand development process customer-centric in approach. 

It makes sure that your brand has a personality and stays human throughout. 

This means everything you do now has your customer in mind, resulting in a superior brand experience for your audience and customers. 

By adapting usability testing in the long run, you can make more confident decisions for your brand communications and improve customer retention and lifetime value exponentially. 

 

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