Challenges and how to overcome them
As crucial as usability testing is in the design process, it can also pose a few challenges, some of which we’ll cover below.
- Recruiting participants: As mentioned previously, it’s essential that we conduct these usability test sessions with representatives of our target audience. Recruiting these people can sometimes be challenging, but a reliable way to overcome this is to create define clear user personas based on real data.
- Removing bias: Usability test sessions are usually conducted by a moderator, a note taker, and observers, the number of which depends on each situation and project. This being said, given the number of people present, participants’ behavior can be influenced (this is why we never ask people if they like something, as they will most likely say they do even though they don’t just to not risk “upsetting” the people involved). To address this challenge, you want to make sure that people feel as comfortable as possible, and that they are always aware that it’s not them that is being tested, but rather that they are testing the product. It’s also important to avoid leading questions, which can be done by using open-ended questions, as well as neutral language.
- Reduced participant engagement: When it comes to usability testing, you will conduct these sessions with different people from different backgrounds. Some of them might know exactly what they are supposed to do, while others might be nervous and refrain from sharing some of their feedback. To overcome this, ensure that the environment is comfortable (as useful as usability test labs might be, they can also be quite overwhelming for some people as they are very formal), and that people are made aware from the beginning of how the sessions will be conducted. Use of probing questions (e.g. “Can you explain why you choose to click on this button to achieve your goal?”, “Can you describe any challenges you encountered during this task?”) could help overcome this challenge.
Conducting usability testing is an essential step when designing products that address people's needs and help them achieve their goals efficiently. While the end users are the main point of interest of this study, the process benefits multiple stakeholders involved, such as designers, product managers, and development teams. In the end, usability testing comes in handy for teams so that they maximize the value delivered to users.