This is the last article of the Become a Product Hero series. I will focus on usability testing using UserTesting.

So far we have seen how to quickly get to a definition of a product or feature by building wireframes with Balsamiq and how to build an interactive prototype with Sketch and Marvel. Now it is time to validate that what you have designed is easy to use.

Equipped with your product or feature prototype you are ready to start testing with real users to prove they are able to use it to achieve a successful outcome with as little friction as possible. This is called usability testing.

In the old days usability testing was expensive and time consuming. It usually consisted on getting potential users in a lab and watching them as they would use your product to perform a series of tasks.

Nowadays, running a test is a lot cheaper and faster thanks to the Internet and an awesome service: UserTesting. UserTesting provides you with a platform where you only need to bring your test script and they will take care of everything else.

Setting up a usability test on UserTesting is very easy and can be accomplished in 3 steps:

  1. Select your target audience. You have to specify how many users you want to use for this test, a set of parameters like income, country, gender, device, etc. Jakob Nielsen, a user experience guru, recommends no more than 5 users. I usually run my experiments with 3 users which I find is a good balance between cost and benefits.
    UserTesting-Select-Audience
  2. Provide information about the activity. You need to specify the url of your Marvel prototype, set up the context to set the user mindset and then add a set of tasks and questions that you want the user to perform and answer during the test. You can also add a few questions to be answered at the end of the test.
    UserTesting screen: Activity Information
  3. Review order, confirm payment information and launch the test.
    UserTesting screen: Payment confirmation

If you have not selected a very specific audience, you will get results very quickly, sometimes in less than one hour. At the end of the test, UserTesting will give you access to a recording of each user session and the answers they provided to the end of test questions. The recording will show the user perform the tasks in your test script and you will hear her sharing what she is thinking as she is performing them. That will help you identify issues with the UI, the interactions, the buttons, the copy, etc.

If you are just starting with usability testing, you would want to go for the Basic plan at $49/user.

Now that you have real feedback from real users, you can decide to fix the UI problems and move to development. Or, if many issues were found or you want to validate that your changes have improved the usability, you could update your prototype and do another round of usability tests.

Start using Balsamiq, Sketch, Marvel and UserTesting and you will see you will save precious time by validating and getting feedback early and you will deliver better products and features to the market faster.