Quite simply, test-driven development is meant to eliminate fear in application development. While some fear is healthy (often viewed as a conscience that tells programmers to "be careful!"), the author believes that byproducts of fear include tentative, grumpy, and uncommunicative programmers who are unable to absorb constructive criticism.
Software Usability Testing Tools
Usability testing is a technique used to observe (usually first-time) users of your application or visitors of your website in order to improve the usability and user experience of your projects. During usability testing you ask users to perform typical tasks such as signing up for a newsletter on your website. Observing how users use and interact with your application or website usually provides you with many useful ideas on how to improve your user interface and highlights problems with your design.
There are many ways to conduct usability tests, such as fast and affordable hallway usability tests, online and remote tests, or large scale usability tests with many participants. Regardless of budget and project size, there are great articles, tools, books and other resources that help you get started with your own testing and we list some of the best resources on this page.
Usability Testing Tools 4 Tools
Conducting usability tests can be done completely without using any special tools, just by asking potential users to test certain features, user interface designs or mockups while watching them use your designs. However, for larger usability tests and larger teams it makes sense to record actual user sessions and plan the test sessions in more detail. The following tools help with exactly this and more.
Silverback is Mac-based software to record usability tests, including screen capturing and live video & audio recording. It also allows you to add notes to the recorded sessions and highlight specific moments of conducted usability tests.
TechSmith's Maroe is a set of usability testing tools to record audio & video and capture the screen during testing sessions. It also comes with advanced eye tracking capabilities and tools for improved communication during tests.
UserZoom is a web service that allows you to manage and conduct usability tests. In addition to managing tests, it also allows you to record videos of usability test sessions and measure metrics to help you improve your user experience.
While not an exclusive usability testing tool, Camtasia lets you record the screen and video/audio of testers during usability tests, making it a good and affordable tool for your tests.
Website Usability Tracking and Analytics 4 Tools
Especially with web-based software and websites in general, it's becoming easier to measure and analyze user behavior to optimize the user experience. There are many marketing-oriented tools available and while useful for other purposes, the below list only contains tools and services that focus on optimizing the user experience and generating heatmaps.
Crazy Egg provides a service that allows you to easily generate heatmaps of your website and web application to measure elements users focus on, so you can optimize the user experience and user interface.
ClickTale is a service that allows you to record videos of your users' browser sessions and website visits, generate heatmaps, monitor users and provides you with additional demographic data so you can optimize your applications and websites.
Usabilia provides you with tools to get more feedback from your website visitors and application users. It allows you to conduct usability surveys as well as ask dedicated testers to provide feedback on wireframes, mockups and product designs early in your development phase.
GhostRec allows you to record videos of live usage sessions of your website visitors. You can use these recordings to optimize the user experience of your website and application and additionally generate heatmaps to identify hotspots in your user interface.
Online Usability Testing Services
There are various online & cloud-based usability testing services that you can use to invite testers to try your applications and to conduct usability tests remotely. The useful thing about these services is that they usually require minimum up-front time and monetary investments so you can get started easily and quickly.
|On-demand usability testing
|Starting @ $49/participant/test
|Website usability testing
|Starting @ $20/test
|Online testing service
|Online usability testing
|Starting @ $158/month
|Website usability testing
|Starting @ $35/test
Usability Testing Books 6 Books
The following books provide a good starting point to learn more about planning, conducting, moderating and measuring usability tests and getting the most out of usability test sessions.
Usability Testing Essentials presents a practical, step-by-step approach to learning the entire process of planning and conducting a usability test. It also explains how to analyze and apply the results and what to do when confronted with budgetary and time restrictions. This is the ideal book for anyone involved in usability or user-centered design-from students to seasoned professionals.
In this volume, the authors begin by defining usability, advocating and explaining the methods of usability engineering and reviewing many techniques for assessing and assuring usability throughout the development process. They then follow all the steps in planning and conducting a usability test, analyzing data, and using the results to improve both products and processes. This book is simply written and filled with examples from many types of products and tests. It discusses the full range of testing options from quick studies with a few subjects to more formal tests with carefully designed controls.
Effectively measuring the usability of any product requires choosing the right metric, applying it, and effectively using the information it reveals. Measuring the User Experience provides the first single source of practical information to enable usability professionals and product developers to do just that. Authors Tullis and Albert organize dozens of metrics into six categories: performance, issues-based, self-reported, web navigation, derived, and behavioral/physiological.
Moderating Usability Tests is the place for new and experienced moderators to learn about the rules and practices for interacting that have never been described in one place before. Authors Dumas and Loring draw on their combined 40 years of usability testing experience to develop and present the most effective principles and practices – both practical and ethical – for moderating successful usability tests.
It's been known for years that usability testing can dramatically improve products. But with a typical price tag of $5,000 to $10,000 for a usability consultant to conduct each round of tests, it rarely happens. In this how-to companion to Don't Make Me Think, Steve Krug spells out an approach to usability testing that anyone can easily apply to their own web site, application, or other product.
Additional Usability Testing Resources
In addition to the above mentioned books, there's a huge number of online resources to help you get started with usability testing, conducting tests and learning more about tools and best practices. We researched the best articles and online resources and please see the list of links below for our findings.
The author explains various lessons he (and his team) learned over the years from conducting usability tests and provides various useful tips to get started with your own testing efforts.
In this article author Jacob Creech describes the basics of usability testing, when to do it, why it's useful and how it helps you design your application and its user interface.
This article explains differences (and challenges) of mobile usability testing compared to testing traditional applications and websites, and provides best practices and tools to conduct usability tests for mobile applications.
Jakob Nielsen argues that testing with a small number of testers, 5 in his example, will provide enough useful feedback that conducting large scale usability tests with dozens or even hundreds of testers is not a good use of resources.
Author Dana Chisnell explains in great detail why it makes sense to do usability testing (especially for designers), how to plan and conduct testing sessions and how to interpret the findings and results.
On This Page
Usability testing is a technique used in user-centered interaction design to evaluate a product by testing it on users. This can be seen as an irreplaceable usability practice, since it gives direct input on how real users use the system. This is in contrast with usability inspection methods where experts use different methods to evaluate a user interface without involving users.
- usability testing
- usability testing tools
- usability testing software
- user testing
- user acceptance tests