It is essential that end-users of products and systems are able to use them efficiently and effectively to a satisfying degree. The keys are ease of use and functionality. A usability test reveals, for instance, strengths and weaknesses in functionality and the usability of the interface, as well as the learnability of the system; how easy it is to learn how to use it. Usability tests need to be part of every design process in order to assist designers and developers to create usable products and systems.
In a usability test you can for instance focus on the functionality of a web page, how logical the system is to use, how visual elements are perceived by users, etc. In our research targeting usability we look at the user’s activities while using the product. We map out strengths and weaknesses of design, navigation, interactivity, functionality – that is, its efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction according to the ISO 9241-11 (1998) standards of usability.
During a standard usability test a selection of participants from the targeted audience is asked to do a number of tasks within a system. The tasks are designed to a) mirror reality as much as possible, and b) to cover critical features of the system. The more specific the research questions are, the better the results will target problem areas. The research questions are tailored according to context, target group, and grounded in elaborate discussions with the design team.