When to do usability testing

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Testing a new design

Test as early and frequently as you can. The further along in development you go, the harder and more costly it is to make changes. Work with your team to identify key issues to prioritize and retest in subsequent rounds to ensure the design makes sense to people before launch.

If you’re developing a new design or interaction, you can test this at different levels of fidelity – from rough sketches through to interactive prototypes, to developed features before release.

Use what you learn from each round of testing to improve your design, and then test it again. The more frequently you can iterate, the more confidence you’ll have in your design. Even in later stages of the development process, your team should be prepared to address larger usability problems and make relevant tweaks.

Usability testing should be an iterative process. Each round should be made up of several testing sessions, and it pays to do several rounds to get things right.

Testing an existing product or service

Conducting a usability test on an existing product or service helps you to assess the current solution and identify areas for improvement.

It also gives you an opportunity to benchmark the existing experience, making it easier to measure the impact of changes later down the track.

Once you have a new design in place, you can re-test it using the same tasks as your original test and see how things compare.

Benchmarking your site alongside your competitors

Reviewing the usability of your competitors is a great way to learn how your product or service compares to others in your market. It can also help glean insight into potential opportunities and gaps in your current offering and feed into strategic decision making.

Conducting usability tests on your competitors is no different to testing your own product. Identify a common set of tasks and scenarios to use during your study to easily compare the performance across different competitors.